After Leo Komarov elected to terminate his contract and return to the KHL, the New York Islanders were awarded with the luxury of cap space. Over the last few months, the Islanders front office has shed the cap hits of Johnny Boychuk, Leo Komarov, Andrew Ladd, and Nick Leddy. That’s $20 million between the four players, just gone.
Now, whether you’d like to give credit to Lou Lamoriello or Steve Pellegrini, Lou’s go-to cap guy is up to you. The moral of the story is that the Islanders have some cap space to play with which is something that wasn’t the case just a few months ago.
According to Puck Pedia, the Isles have $4.3 million in cap space now or, if they wait to make a move at the trade deadline that number would likely be around $18 million.
What could the Islanders do with $18 million in cap space?
If the Islanders wait things out, they could have a roster overhaul by the trade deadline. The first and most obvious need is a puck mover on the left side for the defense. Here are some names that fit that bill:
Hampus Lindholm is in the final year of a contract that is paying him $5.21 million a year against the cap. That number is on the high side for most teams but when looking at the Islanders and their space it could absolutely make sense. He’s just 27 years old, he can play big minutes (averages over 22 minutes per night) and he has six points in 16 games so far this year. With a rebuild starting in Anaheim this one just makes too much sense.
Advanced Stats: 53.27 CF%, 52.00 GF%, 54.13 HDCF%, 61.54 HDGF% (Via: Natural Stat Trick)
Travis Dermott is a young defenseman, who just can’t carve out a role in Toronto. He is playing just 14:38 per night but the advanced numbers indicate that he is ready for a bigger role that just isn’t available with the Maple Leafs. Dermott is on a cheap deal of $1.5 million for this year and next year and perhaps he is someone who could thrive in a more defensive structure with Barry Trotz.
Advanced Stats: 51.86 CF%, 55.37 xG%, 56.96 HDCF%, 57.56 SCF% (Via: Natural Stat Trick)
Heck, it doesn’t even have to stop there. The Islanders can look to add a scorer as well with their surplus of cap space.
Shockingly, he’s seemed to iron out any issues with St. Louis for now but man would this be a major add that the Islanders desperately could use. He’s a point-per-game player with seven goals to his name. Since the Islanders likely wouldn’t need St. Louis to retain any salary ($7.5 million for this year and next), they could likely offer the best package to land the premier goal scorer who has seemed to answer any health concerns as well.
Advanced Stats: 47.76 CF%, 49.46 xG%, 46.34 HDCF%, 55.56 HDGF% (Via: Natural Stat Trick)
Since Toronto retained salary when he was originally traded to Pittsburgh all those years ago, Phil Kessel is on the books at $6.8 million. Sure, he’s up there in age at 34 years old now but as a pending UFA, he does Arizona no good. Kessel has a ton of playoff experience and while he’s off to a slow start this year, he still had 43 points in 56 games last year and would likely get back on track in an improved situation.
Advanced Stats: 48.35 CF%, 48.90 xG%, 49.68 SCF%, 54.10 HDCF% (Via: Natural Stat Trick)
Heck it doesn’t even have to be any of these four guys. The point is the Islanders have the ability to make multiple major splashes at the deadline to go all in. Lou Lamoriello, Steve Pellegrini, and the rest of the front office set up the Islanders for success.