Islanders Lou Lamoriello is learning to live with performance bonuses

DALLAS, TX - JUNE 22: Lou Lamoriello of the New York Islanders prior to the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center on June 22, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - JUNE 22: Lou Lamoriello of the New York Islanders prior to the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center on June 22, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello is an old school GM with old school philosophies. One is that he doesn’t like giving performance bonuses. Something he’s had to adapt to in the modern NHL.

He doesn’t like facial hair. He doesn’t like numbers over 30 (unless you’re a goalie). It’s all about the crest on the front rather than the name on the back for New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello.

Lou isn’t a fan of individuality. That’s a problem in an era where individualism is a defining factor of the millennial generation.

As we all know, Lou isn’t ready to cave on his team-first philosophy. He’s still holding on firmly to no number below 31, unless you’re an established veteran or a goalie. And no facial hair or long hair. Barry Trotz’s goatee hasn’t been seen in years nor has Andrew Ladd and Nick Leddy’s beards.

But something Lou has had to adjust on is performance bonuses. Lou doesn’t like ’em but we’ve seen him give them out to some of his players. And with the ongoing negotiation with Ilya Sorokin, it’s a good thing Lou is using them.

Nobody Worries About Individual Things

Back in 2011, Lou Lamoriello, then GM of the New Jersey Devils made the news for signing the Devils 2011 first-round pick Adam Larsson to an entry-level contract on the last day possible for NHL eligibility. What was noteworthy about the deal wasn’t just when it was signed but the total lack of performance bonuses.

The deal only came together because Larsson decided not to push for performance bonuses as would be expected from a fourth-overall pick in the draft. Looking back at the 2011 draft Larsson was one of only a hand full of first-round picks without any performance bonus to speak of.

After the signing, Lou praised Larsson for his unselfish decision and talked about why the Devils just don’t give out performances bonuses to their players.

"“We do not have any individual bonuses in any player contracts,” Lamoriello said. “Never had it, including our picks that we’ve drafted over the years. This was established a couple years after I came here.“In my mind, it is not a team-first philosophy that players have bonuses that if they score goals they get more money. Or if they get more ice time than another player then they get more money.“Our conversations have been that this is not something that is advantageous for us to do. And the reason is because every player in our locker room that we have drafted has bought into that philosophy. Nobody worries about individual things, only the team is a commitment that’s made.”"

That’s our GM. Always thinking about team-first.

But of late Lou has had to soften that stance on performance bonuses. There are five players on the Islanders regular and extended roster who were signed to ELC’s by Lou that have performance bonuses.

  • Oliver Wahlstrom (2018-11th overall) : $537,500
  • Noah Dobson (2018 12th-overall) : $537,500
  • Bode Wilde (2018 41st overall) : $182,500 in year one and drops to $82,500 by year three
  • Jakub Skarek (2018 72nd overall): $182,500 in year one and drops to $132,500 for year two and three

Lou didn’t start giving out performances bonus money as soon as he became GM of the New York Islanders he was giving some out as the GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Although even there he faced some criticism for being less than open on signing up to give out bonus money.

But his evolution from not wanting to give them out at all in 2011 – and being proud of it – to then agreeing to pay some performance bonus money to Jakub Skarek a 72nd overall pick is a significant step for the old school boss.

Sure, there’s very little chance that most of these players if any see that performance bonus money found in their contract. But just nine years ago, Lous didn’t even agree to the idea of performance bonuses.

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At the moment, there are discussions going on between the Islanders and Isles prospect Ilya Sorokin’s camp specifically about bonuses (and a Euro assignment clause). With Sorokin ear-marked as the future of the franchise in goal, I’m sure Lou will try to sign up for as little bonus money as possible, but he’ll likely concede and give Sorokin the max.