The New York Islanders surprised us today when we found out that both Jordan Eberle and Josh Bailey were left unprotected. The thought was that one of the two would be protected but instead, it was neither, in favor of Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck.
If two of the three fourth-liners are protected, that should tell you all you need to know about where Casey Cizikas will be playing next year, if you had any doubt.
With who is unprotected, we’ll go through and talk about the notables and why Seattle may take them.
3 years remaining – $5.5 million cap hit
Eberle is coming off of a 33 point season with the Islanders. Over the past three seasons he’s been stapled to Mat Barzal’s right side but with the Isles cap situation, and his streaky production, it makes sense to why Lou Lamoriello left him unprotected.
If Seattle were to take him, they’d be getting a top-six Right Winger who can give you 20-25 goals and 50 points in his sleep. If they’re okay with spending, this seems like a wise choice.
3 years remaining – $5 million cap hit
This was a legit shock to me when I read it this morning. The longest-tenured Islander was made available by Lou Lamoriello. Last season Bails had 35 points (8 goals, 27 assists) in 54 games played.
By now we know the story, his career started slow but over the last five years, he’s been one of the better Islanders forwards. He’s a versatile piece, as he can play on either wing, take faceoffs, and play anywhere in a team’s top-nine.
If Seattle takes him, there’s a very good chance he could be their first captain as well. Honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me if Lou had a deal in place to protect Bailey.
The former first-rounder in 2016 seems like a prime candidate to go in the expansion draft. He’d come on the cheap and honestly for the Islanders has just been blocked by veterans, he’s ready for an NHL role.
In 22 career games in the league he has five goals, and projects as a middle-six LW. Lamoriello could also use him as a sweetener to get Seattle to stay off of the guys listed earlier.
The 22-year-old only has 12 NHL games under his belt but if you’re looking for a versatile bottom-six piece he’s your guy. At six-foot-four 223 lbs, he has the size to translate at the next level, if he’s given the opportunity.
His ceiling isn’t as high as Bellows, so he’s probably less likely to be taken but he’d likely be a pretty solid fourth-liner on the cheap.
one-year remaining – $3 million cap hit
In 33 games, Uncle Leo had just eight points and one goal. But he’s a pest to play against and Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz love the guy. I don’t think he’s someone who gets taken naturally but he could be the player selected after the Islanders trade off Bellows and a pick or something.
Komarov could have some value for them at the trade deadline as well with his contract. Teams on the cusp of the playoffs are always looking for players like that.
Some other notable names are Andy Greene, Sebastian Aho, Thomas Hickey, and Michael Dal Colle. Of this batch, Aho probably is the most likely to get taken but still, would imagine the Kracken would go in another direction assuming there’s no trade.
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We’ll see come Wednesday what happens but I’d be genuinely shocked if Lou Lamoriello lets Seattle take one of Jordan Eberle or Josh Bailey for nothing.