Today, the Carolina Hurricanes shocked the hockey world with the pettiest move ever. And it was/is glorious. The Hurricanes offer sheeted Montreal Canadiens forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi to a one-year $6.1 million deal. What does this have to do with the New York Islanders you’re asking? Nothing directly, but this is why Lou Lamoriello is being cagey with his signings.
Of course, Lou doesn’t have to worry about this exact scenario. The Kotkaniemi offer sheet is the Tom Dundon and the Carolina Hurricanes way of getting back at the Montreal Canadiens for offer seating Sebastian Aho last year.
But worrying about an offer sheet was real for Lou over the last two years.
Why New York Islanders GM is being cagey with filing signings
Everyone knows that Lou Lamoriello’s New York Islanders are right up to the salary cap ceiling. Last year we were told that offer sheets were coming for Mathew Barzal. They never did, because Lou didn’t let anyone know how much space he had (or didn’t have).
And he’s up to the same trick this year.
Sure the deals for Kyle Palmieri, Casey Cizikas, Zach Parise, and all aren’t filed yet, but by all accounts, they are signed. But by not filing them the Islanders seemingly still have $11.9 million in cap space to play with.
Any offer sheet could easily be matched by the Islanders. So why even try one? If there is a 0% chance of success there’s no sense in trying one, right?
And sure, the Islanders don’t have any Mathew Barzal-level RFAs to sign this offseason. But their top RFAs are definitely attractive players for the other 31 teams in the NHL; Adam Pelech is an elite level shutdown D, Ilya Sorokin could be an elite level starter in the league, and Anthony Beauvilliler is a solid top-six forward who could be a 60 point player in the league.
They may not be Mathew Barzal, but they are worth protecting. Which is why Lou is keeping us all in the dark. Yes, Lou doesn’t have to worry about a revenge offer sheet, but he has to worry about an offer sheet, and not filing his contracts are the best and most eloquent counter to the threat of an offer sheet.