How the NY Islanders Can Re-Open Their Winning Window

This era of New York Islanders hockey will be remembered fondly, but after last night, it appears to be the end of the line for this group of players. What are the next steps for the organization?
While he brought new credibility to the entire NY Islanders organization, Lou Lamoriello has also saddled the franchise with long-term contracts that will make change difficult.
While he brought new credibility to the entire NY Islanders organization, Lou Lamoriello has also saddled the franchise with long-term contracts that will make change difficult. / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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Noah Dobson
How will Noah Dobson's contract situation play out for the NY Islanders? / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

The big question on defense is with Noah Dobson. Dobson became the first Islanders defenseman in nearly 40 years to score 70 points, and that's after two seasons at a 50-point pace. Simply put, Dobson has established himself as a star on the blueline. Because Dobson is a young, right-shot star defenseman, NHL teams would line up around the block at the opportunity to acquire him.

Here is the issue for the Islanders. Dobson has one more year on his deal at $4.25M, so he is eligible to discuss a long-term extension on July 1. After this season, he will be RFA with arbitration rights and only one year from UFA status. Because he's coming off such a great year, he is going to aim for an enormous, UFA-type deal this summer; otherwise, he can just wait, accept the qualifying offer next summer, and walk right to UFA on July 1, 2026, at 26 years old, guaranteeing a monster payday.

So the Isles effectively have to sign Dobson to top-of-the-market money this offseason or understand that they have two years left of Dobson before he hits UFA in extremely high demand. So the Isles are in a tough spot here. It's also not unreasonable to point out that Dobson did fade a bit in the last month of the season and was a non-factor in the postseason. So the Isles will have to pay Dobson as a surefire #1 superstar defenseman in an environment where he has the leverage. This will not be cheap, and the Isles already have a lot of money on the books, so we'll see where this goes this summer.

As for the #6 spot and depth spot, the Isles still have Samuel Bolduc under contract, as well as some other prospects and young players. They could also look to bring back Sebastian Aho, Robert Bortuzzo, and/or Mike Reilly, but that also essentially guarantees the same roster on defense and in goal next season.