Thomas Greiss will be forced out with the impending arrival of Ilya Sorokin and the current state of the New York Islanders salary cap.
The New York Islanders have had a strong duo in between the pipes these last few seasons. Thomas Greiss has been a key part of that tandem during that time. However, with the pending arrival of a top prospect and many key players to sign this off-season, Greiss’s days are numbered with the Isles.
The Islanders have been very fortunate to have Thomas Greiss (who is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end) these last few years. He has been a security blanket for the team. But with Ilya Sorokin on the cusp of the NHL and the current state of the Isles salary cap, this will force out Greiss from Long Island.
The Islander organization and fans have been waiting on Sorokin for quite some time. Sorokin, a third-round pick by the Islanders in 2014 Draft has dominated the KHL these last few seasons. Sorokin’s numbers in the KHL are something one would see out of a video game (224 Regular Season Games, 1.72 GAA, .929 Save Percentage). His playoff numbers in 65 games are even better with 1.41 GAA and .938 save percentage.
Sorokin made news recently by saying he is ready to come over to the NHL after this KHL season ends. Sorokin has been one of the top NHL prospects in the last several seasons. The Hockey News 2019 Future Watch had Sorokin as the 41st best prospect.
It turns out Sorokin is very good friends with the other Islander netminder Semyon Varlamov. Varlamov has been a bit of a mentor for Sorokin during his development. When the Islanders signed Varlamov this past July 1st, Lou Lamoriello called Varlamov’s relationship a “fringe benefit”.
Believe it or not, this off-season Lamoriello and the Islanders will have a bit of a tight salary cap to work through. Without boring you with the number details but if you take how much the Isles are currently under the cap, the expected increase for next season, and all of the Isles free agents after this season (UFA’s & RFA’s) that will leave them with $15 – $16 million in cap space.
That sounds great, right? Keep in mind Mathew Barzal, Ryan Pulock, and Devon Toews all will be restricted free agents at the end of this season. All three will receive sizable increases, to say the least. Plus Sorokin will receive an annual salary of a little under $1 million.
For Lou to sign that quartet it will take just about all of that estimated available cap space. It’s possible Lou will have to make a move to free up a bit more in cap space to get everyone signed. Lamoriello will find a way to make it all work.
Notice that Greiss was not mentioned in that road map. Based on Greiss’s performance these last two years, the soon to be 34-year old (birthday is in January) should land a new contract with an annual value between $4 – $5 million.
Even if Lou wanted to resign Greiss and use Sorokin as a major trade chip, the math does not work unless major moves were to be made.
Another consideration is Sorokin is nearly a decade younger (turns 25 in the summer) than Greiss. Under different circumstances, Lamoriello would bring back Greiss in a heartbeat. However, given the state of things, Greiss will be elsewhere next season.
Greiss has been a terrific Islander and everyone should appreciate him the rest of this season.