The New York Islanders haven’t had a successful free-agent period. It’s time that Lou Lamoriello turns his attention to the trade market.
Just because the New York Islanders missed on Artemi Panarin to the New York Rangers and then doubled-back on captain Anders Lee doesn’t mean they’re done adding forward talent to the roster.
According to The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun (subscription required), Lou Lamoriello was trying to bring in both Anders Lee and Artemi Panarin during the free agency period.
LeBrun was clear to state that Lee isn’t back with the Islanders because Panarin went to the Rangers. Keeping Lee was always part of the plan.
It seems that the Islanders were willing to give Panarin $12.5 million and (according to LeBrun) Lee’s $7 million deal was essentially agreed upon back in September.
That’s a combined $19.5 million. Some quick math will tell you there wasn’t going to be enough money to get the two under contract. The Isles were going to have to find $3.9 million space to get the two under the cap ceiling. And that’s not considering the three RFA’s the Islanders have to sign.
After signing Lee to his seven-year deal, the New York Islanders have $8.65 million in cap space. Once they get Anthony Beauvillier, Michael Dal Colle, and Josh Ho-Sang under contract the Islanders won’t have much cap space to bring in that top-level talent they need through free agency.
They’ll have to explore the trade market to add to the roster.
Nick Leddy has long been speculated to be on the Islanders trade block. Moving him could clear up $5.5 million in cap space, or he along with a package of picks and prospects could fetch a top-level forward.
Moving Thomas Hickey and his $2.5 million salary-cap hit could further clear up space for the Islanders. He won’t return much on his own but surrounded by a top-tier prospect and a first-round pick could return something quite nice for the Islanders.
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The New York Islanders still have moves they can make to turn things around. Expect Lou to start moving some assets around to clear up some space to make a run at someone (maybe an RFA) or to trade for that top-six forward soon.