Now that the New York Islanders season is over. It’s time to turn the page and discuss the blue and orange offseason agenda.
The New York Islanders had a terrific 2019-20 season. Getting to the Conference Finals was a giant step for this franchise. But getting to the ultimate goal is going to require a few moves this offseason.
The Islanders are currently
under the $81.5 salary cap ceiling. Lou Lamoriello has three big restricted free agents to sign this offseason in
Moves have to be made to get the Isles under the cap ceiling. The one that makes the most sense is trading Nick Leddy. Leddy was terrific in the playoffs but again space needs to be cleared.
The 29-year old Leddy has two years left on his contract with an annual cap hit of $5.5 million. Trading Leddy should get the Isles pretty close to the additional cap space they need to sign their RFA’s. It would also open up a spot for the super-talented youngster Noah Dobson (would give them four right-handed defensemen & two lefties).
With the Seattle expansion draft coming after next season, the Isles would probably lose Leddy then anyway and will get no compensation in return. A Leddy deal could help the Islanders recapture draft picks that they traded away to acquire J.G Pageau and Andy Greene.
Goal Scorer and the Power Play
The Isles could use another goal scorer and one who could immensely help their power play that was anemic at times during the playoffs. However, because of their tight cap situation, this kind of trade becomes even more complicated.
Could the Isles try and land a Patrik Laine from Winnipeg? That makes a lot of sense as long as he would buy into Barry Trotz’s structure. But keep in mind the Jets are going to want young talented, controllable NHLers in return. Think of a package that would include Anthony Beauvillier and Toews. Plus Laine’s cap number for next season is $6.75 million, so the Isles would have to move additional salary as well to accommodate such a trade.
A more realistic option might be rekindling trade talks with the Minnesota Wild for 36-year old Zach Parise. At the trade deadline, it was reported that Lamoriello and Wild GM Bill Guerin were discussing a swap of Andrew Ladd plus young secondary assets to bring Parise to Long Island (subscription required).
The Isles need to make sure that if they bring in a goal scorer he will accept and play in Trotz’s system. Lou knows Parise very well from his days in New Jersey so that wouldn’t be an issue. Taking into consideration all the injuries that Parise has endured, such a move would be a risky one. But if that trade could happen the Isles would add Parise to the mix without trading a core player from their roster.
Wahlstrom & Martin
Oliver Wahlstrom was loaned to Sweden’s AIK hockey club at the end of August. The early reports are very good and it would be terrific if Wahlstrom could take a spot on Pageau’s line come early next season, making that line even more productive and more dangerous. Derick Brassard is not coming back and the Isles have a hole to fill on that line.
The 31-year old pending UFA Matt Martin still has plenty left to offer the Islanders. He had a terrific playoff and he is still a very valuable member of this team both on and off the ice.
To sign Martin and squeeze him under the salary cap a move would have to be made. The Isles could trade the 26-year old Ross Johnston ($1 million cap hit) for a draft pick and sign Martin to a two-year deal.
There is a lot on Lou’s plate this offseason but Islander fans should feel very confident in the leadership that is now running the franchise.