Islanders: What If Artemi Panarin Chose Long Island?
The New York Islanders offered Artemi Panarin the most money. What if he decided to come to Long Island in free agency?
This past summer, for a little less than 24 hours, the New York Islanders seemed to be the favorites to land Artemi Panarin. It was rumored that the Islanders were going to offer him $12 million to $12.5 million a year to come to play for them.
For some reason, Panarin took roughly $1 million per year less ($11.6 million AAV), to play with the New York Rangers but what if he chose the Islanders?
According to Lou Lamoriello, the plan was always to retain Anders Lee. So we’d have to operate under the assumption that both Panarin and Lee would be on this roster so let’s try to figure out how this would’ve worked before we go into what would’ve happened.
So we’ll assume no JG Pageau trade or Andy Greene trade happens. We’re going all the way back to the summer of 2019 to make both of these guys fit. Here’s the first deal in order to make room for Panarin that would’ve had to happen.
The Islanders send Nick Leddy back home to Minnesota in exchange for two second-rounders. Leddy would clear up $5.5 million in cap space, while also providing two picks the Islanders could use after they make their next cap dump.
This is essentially 2017 expansion draft logic. The Isles have to dump off Andrew Ladd’s salary and a rebuilding team gets a first-round pick in return. It’s a win for both sides. Now, the Isles would’ve had enough cap to fit Panarin in so what would the lineup have looked like?
Panarin – Barzal – Eberle
Lee – Nelson – Bailey
Beauvillier – Brassard – Dal Colle
Martin – Cizikas – Clutterbuck
Pelech – Pulock
Toews – Mayfield
Hickey – Boychuk
Scratches: Komarov, Johnston, Dobson
Projecting How Things Would’ve Went
When adding Artemi Panarin, the Rangers went from 22nd in the league in goals for to 5th in the league in goals for this season. That’s a drastic jump, while the Islanders actually dropped from 21st in the league to 23rd in the league in goals for.
While expecting them to jump into top-five might be a stretch, I think it’s fair to put bump them up 10 spots, to 13th in the league. That would put them at roughly 224 goals on the season as opposed to their 192 goals that they currently have.
With an extra 32 goals, how many more wins does that give the Islanders? Would you say that it would give them more than five more wins? I’d tend to think so. Well, that would mean first place in the Metropolitan Division.
As of now, the Capitals are first in the Metro with 90 points. To say the Islanders would be third in the conference behind both Boston and Tampa Bay is honestly probably a fair estimate.
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This team is just one dominant forward away from being a contender in a lot of people’s eyes. Obviously, there’s no way of knowing for sure but if the Islanders were able to obtain Panarin and keep Lee this team would likely be top-three in the conference instead of sitting in ninth in the conference.