The New York Islanders desperately need help up front. With Jeff Skinner off the market that leaves Artemi Panarin as the only logical choice.
Can someone tell me the last time the New York Islanders landed a big free agent? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Historically, when it comes to free agency the Islanders don’t have much luck landing big name guys.
This year that has to change. The Islanders are finally in a good position with a hall of fame General Manager and a hall of fame Head Coach, somehow they have to figure out how to get a big free agent to come here.
And not just any free agent, the free agent, Artemi Panarin. It’s without question that Panarin is the most talented forward on the market, which is exactly what the Islanders are looking to address on their roster.
Just a few days ago, Jeff Skinner signed a hefty extension to remain in Buffalo. He was arguably the next best choice behind Panarin. The difference now is the drop off is even more extreme after Panarin now.
Matt Duchene is the next best option but he’s a center. The Islanders just locked up Brock Nelson to be their number two center, they aren’t going to pay Duchene a boatload of money now and for good reason.
You have Joe Pavelski, who is 35 years old, Gustav Nyquist, who is 30 years old and has eclipsed 25 goals or more just twice in his career, and Ryan Dzingel who has two good years to his name. All three of those guys are huge question marks and not the kind of improvement you’d be looking for.
Panarin is the difference maker the Islanders need. In four years in the NHL, he’s eclipsed 70 points every single year and has been a point per game player or better the last two years. It’s easy to see why he’s the number one forward on the market.
That means that the competition for Panarin is only going to get harder with guys like Skinner coming off the board. The Rangers and Panthers have been rumored destinations for Artemi Panarin but the Islanders might just have to overpay to make sure they get their guy.
He’s probably someone who deserves a $10 million AAV who will likely now get $11 million to maybe even $11.5 million a year because of supply and demand. There’s no one even remotely close to his talent level hitting the market.
Like I said, historically the Islanders haven’t been very good at getting the number one free agent out there but this year has to be different. As it stands right this minute, the Islanders have $27.7 million in cap space.
Obviously, they have more work to do but this is the same team that was prepared to give John Tavares $11 million a year, why not use the money that would’ve been going to Tavares and give it to Panarin?
Eventually, Lou Lamoriello has to put his chips to the table and play hardball. If not now, when?