The New York Islanders have been up against the NHL’s salary cap for a few years now. And Lou Lamoriello has danced around the league’s hard cap wonderfully. That’s not just me, an Islanders fan stating this.
When the numbers are crunched on all 32 NHL teams, the Islanders come out as the tenth best team for contract efficiency according to The Athletic’s Dom Luszczyszyn (subscription required). That’s a big jump from 21st just last season. One Lou Lamoriello should be applauded for.
New Yorks Islanders GM has danced around the cap masterfully
Sure, the Islanders are up against the cap in part because of the signings that Lou Lamoriello has made. He’s committed $51 million to players currently on the roster.
But his worse grade according to Dom is Jean-Gabriel Pageau‘s deal (C-), which strikes me as odd. Pageau has been a valuable player for the Isles ever since he arrived in a trade from the Ottawa Senators. Dom does state this doesn’t count the playoffs.
So Lou may have used up most of the Isles cap space with his players but he’s done a remarkable job at getting good value on those deals.
He’s been even better when it comes to making room for all of those players.
Since the 2020 offseason, when the crunch really took place, Lou has moved Devon Toews, Andrew Ladd, Jordan Eberle, and Nick Leddy. That’s some $20 million dollars moved off the cap.
Of course, Lou didn’t want to move Devon Toews. Ideally, he would have kept the puck mover, but that wasn’t possible. The market for someone like Nick Leddy just wasn’t there last season. Meaning to get a good return and clear some space Toews had to go. Getting two second-round picks for him was a great return. Consider that the Vegas Golden Knights got a third-round pick from the Vancouver Canucks for Nate Schmidt.
Oh, and getting those second-round picks for Devon Toews allowed the Islanders to move Andrew Ladd and his $5.5 million cap hit the next offseason.
The Islanders still need a left-handed defenseman for their second pair before the start of the 2021-22 season, but Lou has some cap space (not much but some) to bring in that player and retain the UFA and RFA players on the roster.
Meaning Lou is likely to retain the team that was two goals away from a Stanley Cup final last year and add a bit of depth to the roster, all while staying under the hard salary cap. Incredible.