How can the NY Islanders make a trade for Alex DeBrincat fit under the salary cap?

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How to Afford DeBrincat This Year

Jean-Gabriel Pageau
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How can the Islanders make $8.5 million in cap space appear out of nowhere?

This is where it's important that Pageau, who makes $5 million, is on the other end of the trade. Say the Islanders trade Pageau, Wahlstrom, and a 1st round pick for DeBrincat, who signs an 8-year extension at $8.5m per year. That puts them only $2.4m over the cap, still needing to sign a center to replace Pageau.

It's important to remember that this is legal. Teams are allowed to be over the cap during the offseason, so the Islanders could make this trade before figuring out the rest of the cap, but I have some ideas about how to make the numbers work.

Adam Henrique would solve the Islanders' hole at 3C. He makes $5.8 million for one more year, but the Ducks - who have almost $30 million in cap space - would definitely be willing to retain half of the contract. While he's on the older side, he's still a productive player, with 22 goals and 38 points in 62 games last year. If the Islanders traded Kyle Palmieri for Henrique with 50% retained, they'd gain $2.1m of space, which puts them only $325k over the cap. It'd be a shame to lose Palmieri, but he'd be a little redundant, with Engvall being able to slot into the top 6 with Lee and Nelson.

Finally, if they demoted Ross Johnston to the minors, his entire $1.1m cap hit would be off the books. He could be replaced with someone making less than $800k - maybe Zach Parise decides not to retire, or maybe Arnaud Durandeau earns a spot out of training camp. That leaves them with only one extra forward, not two, but that might be the best move.

Of course, there are a lot of ways to modify this scenario. Palmieri could be traded for a different (cheaper) center, or someone other than Palmieri could be traded. Moving or buying out Martin or Clutterbuck would also add some flexibility, but the point is that the DeBrincat trade is financially possible.

It'll require another move or two, but it's possible. If it wasn't, the Islanders wouldn't be interested.