The NHL Free Agency window opened up last Wednesday and yet the New York Islanders have remained quiet through the weekend. Deals are done but why have the Isles not announced anything? Lou Lamoriello has his reasons.
The New York Islanders lost Nick Leddy and Jordan Eberle due to the team’s cap crunch and the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft. The blue and orange faithful entered Day 1 of NHL Free Agency anxious for good news.
While the official announcements has yet to come per numerous NHL Insiders (Elliotte Friedman & Bob Mackenzie on Day 1 of NHL Free Agency) word has leaked the Isles have completed a number of moves.
Why Has Lou Not Announced
So why has Lamoriello not announced any of these deals yet? It comes down to multiple balls in play from trade talks to contract negotiations with the Isles restricted free agents (Adam Pelech, Anthony Beauvillier, and Ilya Sorokin).
Lamoriello does not want others to know be it clubs in the league or other agents what his completed contracts look like and how much cap space he currently has to operate with.
The signing of Zajac is a key component. Zajac will be the Isles’ 13th forward with Cizikas resigned to center the “Identity Line”.
Zajac’s role will be in case of injury he will jump into the lineup. His versatility to play either center or wing and his defensive sound game along with his leadership make him the perfect 13th forward.
That means Leo Komarov and either Richard Panik or Ross Johnston will be traded. Uncle Leo has a $3 million cap hit while Panik is at $1.375 & Johnson $1 million. Lou has to work out deals to move two of these players (with Komarov being one of them) with the remaining player as one of the two Isles extra forwards for the opening night roster.
In terms of trade talks, it’s clear the Islanders need a left-handed defenseman. Could a reunion with Calvin de Haan happen? Seattle has eight NHL defensemen on their roster, so could Jeremy Lauzon be available?
Then there is Vladimir Tarasenko. Yours truly remains skeptical but Lamoriello remains engaged. Lamoriello might want to see what the final asking price is on Tarasenko before announcing any moves.
Keep in mind, in Tarasenko talks Lou is going to want St. Louis to take a player with a decent salary and ask St. Louis to pay for part of his deal. If the Blues know the Islanders don’t have a lot of cap space they might hold them up for an extra top draft pick or prospect in trade talks. Or if the Blues know the Isles have plenty of cap space they may say to Lamoriello no way we are eating any of his cap hit.
Islander fans are chomping at the bit to see the full picture of the Islander team for next season. In this case, odds are patience will be rewarded.