New York Islanders Look Ahead: busy off-season after Tough Game 7 loss
Really tough loss for the New York Islanders After Game 7 versus the Tampa Bay Lightning. Isles played so well during the playoffs and they had to as they faced killer competition in the Penguins, Bruins, and finally the Lightning.
Now it’s time to do a 30,000-foot look ahead for the New York Islanders heading into the off-season and it’s going to be a busy one.
For the blue and orange, the off-season starts with the Expansion Draft. The Isles have four strong defensemen and can only protect three.
Looking ahead at New York Islanders off-season
It would be a big surprise if Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz didn’t decide to protect Ryan Pulock, Adam Pelech, and Scott Mayfield. That would leave Nick Leddy exposed. The Islanders also have a couple of young kids in Kieffer Bellows and Otto Koivula who will probably be exposed as well and garner serious interest from the Seattle Kraken.
The big question is does Lamoriello trade Leddy before the Expansion Draft and get assets for him or does he roll the dice and maybe Seattle takes one of the Isles young forwards instead.
If Leddy is either traded pre-expansion or is selected by Seattle that will give the Isles $5.5 Million in cap relief. However, it will also leave a very big open spot on the blue line.
Another Cap Crunch
Without getting into a bunch of numbers, the Isles are going to be up against the cap again this off-season. They will get relief by putting Johnny Boychuk on LTIR. Not sure if Andrew Ladd who only played one game this season in Bridgeport is an option on LTIR as well.
In terms of their core group, Casey Cizikas is an unrestricted free agent, and Anthony Beauvillier, Adam Pelech, and Ilya Sorokin are restricted, free agents. In addition, Kyle Palmieri is a pending UFA and would be a great fit on the Islanders’ third line.
But the trick is going to be fitting all those players under the flat $81.5 million dollar cap. Moving Leo Komarov ($3 Million Cap Hit), Thomas Hickey ($2.5 Cap Hit), and or Ross Johnston ($1 Million Cap Hit) could give the Isles some extra room that they desperately need. But such moves will cost Draft capital which the Islanders have seriously dipped into the last couple of years.
The upcoming Draft is something that many Islander fans are probably not too concerned with as their focus is on the here and now. But Jordan Eberle and Josh Bailey are 31 and Matt Martin is 32 and in three years’ time, their contracts end.
Developing the pipeline is always important for long-term success. Outside of the first round (traded to the Devils), the Islanders have one selection in rounds two through seven.
The goal for Lou and Trotz is to continue to improve this team on top of what they have already built. That is taking into account both tangible and intangible skill sets.