This is a huge steal for the Islanders. Matt O’Leary wrote more about why here, but Pelech is one of the best defensive defensemen in the entire league, and locking him up longterm for less than $6 million per season is incredible.
If you’ve read my other articles, you may remember that I’ve been expecting a $5 million deal. So why am I so happy with a contract that’s more expensive than I expected?
The answer is length. My $5 million prediction was based on a 2-4 year contract, which would allow him to sign for more when the salary cap increased. Locking him up for eight years means that this cap hit, which is already a bargain, becomes even more of a bargain in five or six years when the salary cap is over $90 million.
Plus, it’s always good to lock up your stars. I didn’t seriously expect Pelech to leave as a UFA after a short-term deal, but as an Islanders fan, you can’t blame me for being a little nervous, after the events of a few years ago (you all know what I’m referring to). Signing Pelech for eight years avoids any possibilities of that kind of situation.
But another reason this contract is good news is that it’s not actually that expensive. Being only $750,000 above my initial expectation means the Islanders actually have a lot of flexibility – including, potentially, to trade for Vladimir Tarasenko.
Let’s assume, for the moment, that the Islanders’ defense is:
Healthy scratch: Aho
Trust me, I read all of your comments on my previous articles. Many fans are not happy with these defensive pairings. Trusting Andy Greene with second-pair minutes at age 38, plus a third pair of a rookie and an almost-rookie, don’t seem like Trotz things to do.
And, honestly, I agree. I’m still not sure if the Isles will trade for a left defenseman. All of the targets we expected – Ryan Suter, Mike Reilly, Vince Dunn, Alec Martinez, and more – seem to be off the table, but you never know with Lou Lamoriello – he might be planning some trade that nobody expects.
But, for this article, I’m going to assume that no more moves will be made on defense, because it’d be pretty difficult to acquire a defenseman plus Tarasenko, and the purpose of this article is to show that a Tarasenko trade is possible.
So, with that being said, let’s also assume Anthony Beauvillier is signed for $4 million, and Ilya Sorokin signs for $3 million. I’ll also say the other RFAs (Bellows, Koivula, and Golyshev) sign for between $800,000 and $900,000.
All reports indicate that Kyle Palmieri and Zach Parise are coming to Long Island, and many reporters believe Casey Cizikas is also returning. Palmieri should get around $4 million, Cizikas around $3 million, and I can’t see Parise getting much more than $1 million.
The Islanders would need to shed some salary in a Tarasenko trade. If they traded Leo Komarov and Thomas Hickey to St. Louis as part of the deal, the money would work. Of course, they’d need to add draft picks so St. Louis would agree to take Komarov and Hickey, but there’s no reason they couldn’t do that.
If they traded draft picks plus Komarov and Hickey to the Blues (I’m not saying which draft picks because I really don’t know – St. Louis has no leverage, but Tarasenko is still a star player, so it’s hard to gauge the trade value), this is what the forward group would look like:
Healthy scratches: Panik, Parise
This team would be cap-compliant, if Parise signed for $950,000, which isn’t unreasonable. And after years of Valtteri Filppula, Derick Brassard, Leo Komarov, Michael dal Colle, and Ross Johnston, wouldn’t it be incredible to have the third line be Palmieri-Pageau-Wahlstrom?
For the record, I don’t think this scenario is likely. I think trading for a left defenseman and keeping a few million in cap space for deadline deals is a more Lamoriello thing to do. But this Tarasenko scenario is possible – and if I know that, Lou Lamoriello knows it too.
Pretty much all of the questions from my previous article were about Pelech, and they’ve now been answered. If you have any questions for me, ask me on Twitter or in the comments of this article, and I’ll answer them in my next article!