Earlier today I talked about the New York Islanders five best contracts based on value. By value, I was talking about market value minus salary. A player's market value was established through The Athletic's slick new player cards for the Islanders (subscription required).
But what about the worst ones? What are the five contracts on the team that bring the least amount of value or even effectively cost the Islanders (by cost I mean have a lower market value compared to salary) ? Who are those players and what does that mean for the team?
New York Islanders five worst contracts
You've probably already listed these five contracts in your head before reading the list but here they are as well as how bad their valueis:
5. Casey Cizikas: -$1.2 million
4. Matt Martin: -$1.4 million
3. Kyle Palmieri: -$1.8 million
2. Josh Bailey: -$1.9 million
1. Cal Clutterbuck: -$2.5 million
I don't think anyone is shocked to see the fourth line in its entirety here. The Islanders have had one of the most expensive fourth lines in the NHL for years now. And fourth-liners don't typically rank well in models like there. But at their peak, this fourth line was the very best in the NHL and provided some good value for the Isles. Opposition players had a hard time countering the CCM's lines physical-forechecking game.
This year the fourth line isn't having the same impact on the game. They haven't been able to turn the tide of a game in the Islanders favor at the same rate as they once had. The Isles identity line isn't what it once was. Which means the Isles might have to change their identity soon.
Cal Clutterbuck's contract is up this year and you can easily see him follow in his linemates footsteps if he stays; sign a long term low-money deal. But if this line isn't having the same impact it once did, that doesn't sound like the best idea now does it?
Big Deals Little Impact
Now the other names on the list; Josh Bailey and Kyle Palmieri. That's $10 million on the cap and a combined $3.7 million in lost value. That's a much larger problem for the Islanders than the lost value on the fourth line.
Bailey is signed through the 2023-24 season while Palmieri - just signed this offseason - is set to have his deal expire after the 2024-25 season. Both are in their 30s, 32 for Bailey and 30 for Palmieri (he turns 31 in a few weeks).
These long-term deals for older players assume a certain level of drop-off at the end of the deal. No one expects Bailey to play at a $5 million value when he's in the final year of his deal (at the age of 34), but we do expect him to play like one now. And, well, that's not happening.
The same goes for Palmieri. The Islanders should be banking value on that contract right now. Get top production from him now before it dips down in the later years of the contract. But with one goal and seven points (a pace of 23 points in a full year), he's not even close to providing value to the team.
With neither of them performing to the value of their salary, the Islanders have an issue here. And it's not one they can easily get out of. There aren't any teams looking to acquire either of them on account of those big and long-term deals.
Thankfully, the Islanders aren't in any cap troubles, they have $2.4 million in space now and will have $13.75 million to start next year. Palmieri's struggles (and injury) mean Kieffer Bellows gets a chance to shine and he's absolutely thriving. But that shouldn't gloss over the issue these two players create. The Islanders desperately need both to step up and step up quickly.