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New York Islanders: Early Predictions For 2020 RFA Contracts

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 18: Mathew Barzal #13 of the New York Islanders during the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on December 18, 2018 in Glendale, Arizona. The Islanders defeated the Coyotes 3-1. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 18: Mathew Barzal #13 of the New York Islanders during the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on December 18, 2018 in Glendale, Arizona. The Islanders defeated the Coyotes 3-1. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The New York Islanders have three important RFA’s to take care of next year. What kind of contracts will they be looking at?

It’s been pretty quiet for the New York Islanders this month. After the July 1 free agency frenzy, it’s been rather uneventful despite the team having to sign Anthony Beauvillier, Josh Ho-Sang, and Michael Dal Colle.

These deals will get done at some point before the season, there’s no need to worry, it’s just a tad boring at the moment in Isles Country.

Next year is when the Isles need to worry, as their three RFA’s are all integral parts to what this team is looking to do both this year and in the future. Mathew Barzal, Ryan Pulock, and Devon Toews are all due significant raises.

So what kind of contracts will they be looking at?

Mathew Barzal

This is really cliche, but it really depends on what Barzal does this year with the Islanders. In his rookie year, he put up a whopping 85 points and won the Calder trophy. This past year, those numbers regressed to 62 points.

That’s a big difference in production. Obviously, if he hits 80 points again he’ll be looking for a big payday while if it’s closer to 60, that will likely cost him a million or two on his AAV. I’ll assume he splits the difference of 62 and 85 and hits 74 points this year.

Well, looking at some comparisons at the time of signing you can look at guys like Leon Draisaitl, Jack Eichel, and Sebastian Aho for reference.

Aho and his $8.45 million cap hit over five years was due to an offer sheet but he’s put up similar numbers to Barzal through his first three years in the league. They play the same position and are both just as important to their team.

Eichel actually probably produced less than Barzal at the point of signing. He was coming off a 64 points season (in just 67 games) when he signed his eight-year $10 million AAV deal. This is likely the absolute ceiling of the deal.

As for Draistatl, he was coming off a 77 point season (a career-high at the time). He received an eight-year deal with a cap hit of $8.5 million. At this point, this looks like an absolute steal but at the time it was pretty fair compensation.

You’re probably looking at a deal between $8 million AAV – $10 million AAV. Assuming he finishes with 74 points, I think you’re likely looking at an eight-year $68 million deal ($8.5 million AAV)

Ryan Pulock

As we discussed on the most recent podcast, Ryan Pulock and Jacob Trouba are very similar players. While Pulock hasn’t hit that 50 point year just yet, he is primed to be at minimum a 40 point player this year with a competent power play.

Trouba just signed for seven-years and an $8 million AAV. You could also look at guys like Aaron Ekblad who received an eight-year $60 million deal ($7.5 million AAV) or Matt Dumba who got a five-year deal with a $6 million cap hit.

Yes, that’s a pretty wide range but I think you are looking closer at the bottom half of this range. While his term should be around the same as Trouba’s, his cap number should be closer to Dumba.

For some reason, I think Lou Lamoriello gets him on a rather team-friendly deal and he signs for seven-years $42 million ($6 million AAV).

While there are plenty of examples of guys over $6 million don’t forget about the Colton Parayko’s, Jaccob Slavin’s, and Noah Hanifin’s of the world.

Devon Toews

This is probably the trickiest one to guestimate. He’s essentially the same age as Ryan Pulock but he’s played a lot less in the NHL. In 48 games, he had 18 points which is a pace of 31 over the course of a full season.

Assuming he gets better, which is expected, he will likely finish in the high 30’s to low 40’s in points this upcoming season. Since his experience is less than Pulock’s I don’t think you’re locking him into a seven-year deal.

It’s tough to find a comparable player to Toews who came up later in his career and became an RFA after a year and a half in the NHL. I’m thinking the Islanders lock him up to decent term with a lesser cap hit than Pulock’s.

I’ll say five-years $22.5 million ($4.5 million AAV).

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That means the Islanders are going to need at minimum $19 million in cap space heading into next offseason. Where the Islanders are able to find that room, I’m not quite sure. Lou Lamoriello will likely have his work cut out for him next offseason.

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