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Islanders: Is Gabriel Landeskog a Realistic Target?

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DENVER, COLORADO - JANUARY 26: Gabriel Landeskog #92 of the Colorado Avalanche brings the puck off the boards against the San Jose Sharks in the second period at Ball Arena on January 26, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
DENVER, COLORADO - JANUARY 26: Gabriel Landeskog #92 of the Colorado Avalanche brings the puck off the boards against the San Jose Sharks in the second period at Ball Arena on January 26, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
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The New York Islanders are reportedly a preferred destination for Colorado Avalanche star Gabriel Landeskog, who could become an unrestricted free agent in a few weeks. Landeskog is reportedly considering six destinations:

According to CapFriendly, the Lightning are already over the cap and still have to sign Barclay Goodrow and Blake Coleman (who are both pending UFAs), or new players to replace them, so don’t expect them to sign Landeskog.

The other five teams, though, probably could. So how would the Islanders, whose cap troubles are well known, afford him?

Matt O’Leary wrote in this article about why Landeskog is a player the Isles would want, and I fully agree – so I’ll be talking about how they could make it work.

How could Islanders afford Gabriel Landeskog?

The Islanders, according to CapFriendly, have about $4.4 million in cap space – but that doesn’t account for Johnny Boychuk being moved to Long-Term Injured Reserve, which will free up $6 million more for a total of $10.4 million.

They’ll also lose a player to Seattle in the expansion draft. Let’s assume that’s Jordan Eberle, who makes $5.5 million against the cap, bringing their total cap space to $15.9 million.

With that money, the Isles need to re-sign restricted free agents Anthony Beauvillier, Adam Pelech, and Ilya Sorokin. I expect Beauvillier to make around $4 million, Pelech around $5 million, and Sorokin $3 million, for a total of $12m. That brings the Isles’ available cap space to $3.9 million.

Nick Leddy has reportedly been shopped lately. Trading him would free up some cap space – a maximum of $5.5m if the Islanders receive only draft picks and no players in return. That brings their total space to $9.4 million.

They’ll need to sign two defensemen – one to replace Leddy, and one to replace Andy Greene, who could be a free agent. They could promote someone, such as prospects Robin Salo or Samuel Bolduc, but their cap hit is still about $800,000. A veteran signing (bringing back Andy Greene isn’t unreasonable) could cost about $1 million. Let’s assume the two defensemen together cost about $1.8 million.

In this hypothetical, Landeskog would be replacing Eberle, but they still need a forward to replace Casey Cizikas, who is also a pending free agent. I’m assuming this will be a cheap deal – $1 million or less, for example to Michael dal Colle, Kieffer Bellows, or Anatoly Golyshev.

The Isles, therefore, could create about $6.6 million in cap space without doing anything too drastic. Unfortunately, that won’t be enough.

It’s difficult to imagine any of Landeskog’s preferred destinations being able to offer $10 million, but he certainly could get $8.5 or $9 million. The Isles would need to gain at least $ 3million in space, but I think that’s possible.

You may think trading Andrew Ladd is the answer, but I doubt it. Nobody would take Ladd, whose $5.5 million cap hit lasts for two more seasons, without the Isles paying a lot – I expect it would cost at least a first-round pick and a good prospect.

Rather, I think the answer is to trade Thomas Hickey and Leo Komarov. Only $1.375 million of Hickey’s salary actually counts against the cap, since he’s buried in Bridgeport, but that combined with Komarov’s $3 million gets the job done.

I think a Hickey/Komarov trade could be relatively cheap. The Isles would need to pay, but probably not a ton, since Hickey and Komarov are both decent players. They could probably get the deal done with one second-round pick, and potentially even less.

This gives the Isles almost $11 million. They’ll need to sign a forward to replace Komarov, but can certainly find one for under $2 million – maybe Travis Zajac returns to the Island for $1.5 million, or maybe it’s a similar UFA center.

The Isles could therefore offer Landeskog a $9.4 million contract. Feel free to check my work – I did this on CapFriendly’s Armchair GM simulator (which I highly recommend), and you can find my work here.

I don’t necessarily think they should do this – it’d mean giving up Casey Cizikas, Kyle Palmieri, Jordan Eberle, and Nick Leddy (as well as Thomas Hickey and Leo Komarov). But I do think it’s worth considering – and I’m sure Lou Lamoriello has been considering it

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