Devon Toews was a casualty of the flat cap and the Islanders bloated salary commitments to a number of veterans. Don’t just take my word for it. Here’s what Lou Lamoriello had to say about the Toews trade:
Again, it cost the Rangers a second in 2021 to move a $5.7 million cap hit. Moving Boychuk’s money to one of a handful of teams with enough cap space was going to cost more. And the Islanders didn’t have their second-round pick in 2021 to use as a kicker, they sent that to New Jersey in the Andy Greene trade. The Islanders weren’t about to move their first-round pick for the second year in a row.
Which forced Lou to move Toews in order to bring in assets he didn’t have. Two second-round picks for Devon Toews in this market was a good return for the Islanders. The Golden Knights got a single third-round pick (in 2022) from the Vancouver Canucks for Nate Schmidt who is without question a better player than Devon Toews.
You can argue (successfully) that Toews would normally be worth more than two-second round picks. But this isn’t normal times. Creating cap space was an issue that the Islanders couldn’t overcome without moving something of value. That something turned out to be Devon Toews.
Now the Isles have $8.905 million to re-sign Mathew Barzal and Ryan Pulock. That’s still not enough, but they now have assets that should entice another team to take Johnny Boychuk, which would open up enough space to sign the two and give the Islanders some breathing room.