Editorials

Islanders: Offseason moves on hold until 2020-21 restart figured out

UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 29: New York Islander GM Lou Lamoriello chats with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman at NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum on February 29, 2020 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 29: New York Islander GM Lou Lamoriello chats with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman at NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum on February 29, 2020 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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The New York Islanders (or any other NHL team) won’t make moves until they know when the 20-21 season will begin.

This is an offseason unlike any other. It’s the middle of November and the New York Islanders 2020-21 season has yet to begin. And based on the divide between the NHL and NHLPA we have no idea when it might begin.

The season could begin as early as January 1st and teams like the Islanders have some big business to sort out before the start of the next season. Their main priority is to create enough cap space so they can sign star center Mathew Barzal to an extension.

When can we expect the Islanders to create that much-needed cap space? It depends on the league and the union.

No Real Rush

Everything is at a standstill right now. Everyone is waiting. We heard it the other day when it came to rumors that the Islanders were linked to veteran (and former Isles) defenseman Zdeno Chara. The big man is waiting for the league and union to sort out the 20-21 season.

We heard it again recently with Derick Brassard. The UFA forward told Le Droit that he too was being patient about signing a new deal:

"“When dates are announced for the return to play, teams will be able to move forward” said Brassard who turned 33-years-old last September. “For now, no one knows when it (2020-21 season) will start, so there’s no real rush.” [Translated from french]"

As Brassard says, things won’t move until the 2020-21 calendar is sorted out. Teams and players need to know what the economic landscape is going to look like before they can (1) commit to any sort of cap dump trade and (2) before Mathew Barzal signs an extension.

The league and the players union were able to agree on CBA extension in the most stressful of situations this summer. Surely negotiating how the 2020-21 season would proceed would have been a walk in the park.

But as Pierre LeBrun noted this week for The Athletic (subscription required), the economic divide between the NHL and NHLPA is proving to be more challenging to navigate than previously anticipated with owners asking players to defer (push back) salaries and for the escrow cap to be raised.

Both are deal breakers for the players who see this as a non-issue because they just negotiated both of these issues four months ago.

Until the league and the union can sort out their differences the Isles will have little cap space and Barzal will remain unsigned.

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