The New York Islanders are set to have a busy offseason ahead of them heading into the 2021-2022 season. With Anthony Beauvillier, Ilya Sorokin, and most importantly Adam Pelech needing contract extensions as RFA’s, Lou Lamoriello has a ton of work to do.
As it stands at the moment, the Isles have $5.8 million in cap space. Granted, that’s before moving Johnny Boychuk to LTIR, but still, even add that $6 million on top of the $5.8 million and it’s likely not enough to work with.
For the second year in a row, the Islanders are going to need to create cap space. Here are the top three ways they can do that.
1: The Expansion Draft
With Seattle joining the league next year, the NHL is going through another expansion draft. Expect the Islanders to use the seven forward, three defensemen, and one goalie strategy when making their protected list.
Lou Lamoriello can strategically make his list to make it enticing for Seattle to take a higher contract guy. For example, Nick Leddy and Jordan Eberle seem like prime candidates for that scenario.
Both carry a $5.5 million cap hit and would free up a nice chunk of change for the Islanders to work with in free agency.
2: Andrew Ladd LTIR/Retire
Andrew Ladd has two years remaining on his seven-year $38.5 million deal. If he were to just flat out retire, the Islanders would get that $5.5 million in cap space or if they move him to LTIR they can go over the cap by an additional $5.5 million if they spend up to it.
Over the last three years, Ladd has played just 30 games at the NHL level and just four over the past two years. This past year in particular he played one game at either level and it came in the AHL.
I understand he’s getting a nice chunk of change but pride has to get in the way eventually for Ladd, right? It’s all but over, would he really want to continue to be a scratch-pad player in the AHL or just take his $60 million in career earnings and call it a career?
3: Trading Semyon Varlamov
What?! Trading a goalie who is coming off a .929 save percentage season and a 2.04 goals against average? Well, for the Isles it might be a matter of necessity. Assuming that Ilya Sorokin requires roughly $4 million a year, would the Isles really want $9 million (11% of the cap) for their goalies?
I don’t know if you can justify it in that much of a cap crunch. Plus, moving Varlamov for a draft pick would also help replenish the farm system which hasn’t been producing a ton of talent, especially in the forward department.
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At 33-years-old, Semyon Varlamov isn’t the long-term answer, Lou Lamoriello knows that. Ilya Sorokin is, and if he’s good as they think he is, he can absolutely handle starting for this team.