Is buying out JG Pageau a realistic consideration for the NY Islanders?

Carolina Hurricanes v New York Islanders - Game Four
Carolina Hurricanes v New York Islanders - Game Four / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

Buying out an NHL contract is avoided at almost all costs, but it does happen.

Faced with a salary cap crunch during recent off-seasons, the New York Islanders found ways to avoid a buyout and still shed salary. They moved the remaining years of Andrew Ladd's contract to the Arizona Coyotes for the hefty price of three draft picks, and then last June traded a 2026 second-round pick along with the remaining year on Josh Bailey's deal to the Chicago Blackhawks to save $5M. The Blackhawks promptly bought him out.

Other players bought out last season included Blake Wheeler (WPG), Matt Duchene (NSH) and even Mike Reilly (BOS) was bought out by the Bruins. In those three examples, each team was able to reallocate savings elsewhere on the roster, and it led to regular season success. Shortly (48 hours) after the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Final, we'll start to see whether teams are becoming more open to keeping salaries on their books in exchange for an opportunity to reconstruct their roster.

When the topic of potential buyouts is discussed amongst fans, the name most circulated is that of captain Anders Lee, who has two years remaining on his seven-year extension with an annual AAV of $7M. However, a recent article in The Athletic named 12 potential buy-out candidates around the league, and while Lee wasn't on it, Jean-Gabriel Pageau was named.

Because of his intangibles and versatility, Pageau is often listed amongst Isles players with the most trade appeal. Even coming off a down offensive season, it's reasonable to see why a team with playoff aspirations would find Pageau's skillset an asset on their roster. Those are all reasons why the Islanders shouldn't trade or buy out Pageau, but if GM Lou Lamoriello is looking to create cap space to bring in a high-priced trade target, he'll need to get creative.

Pageau has a modified no-trade clause, and if Lamoriello can't find suitors willing to take on the remaining two years at $5M AAV, a buyout would be a first move of multiple necessary to put the Islanders in position to take on a big contract. A Pageau buyout would save the team $2.75M of cap space this season and $2.25M the next. After that, at a time when the cap is projected to go up, the Isles would maintain $1.25M on the books for two seasons after Pageau's contract expired.

As the article stated in its breakdown, this feels very much like a long shot and would only be a consideration if Lamoriello has another big move in his sights. Still, there would need to be additional moves to clear salary to make something impactful happen on Long Island, which makes it even less a reality even if buyouts become more of a trend than an example this off-season.