The New York Islanders are having another quiet start to NHL free agency and perhaps that's just how GM Lou Lamoriello wants it. After trading the 13th pick in the draft to acquire defenseman Alexander Romanov from the Montreal Canadiens all has been silent on the Isles front.
Throughout Lamoriello’s career, he has run a tight ship both on and off the ice. Some might think of it as micromanagement, but for Lamoriello, it's discipline. On the ice, players must be clean-shaven and wear “traditional” jersey numbers. Off the ice, Lamoriello refuses to be a topic in the rumor mill. His organization knows it, and the teams he deals with know it, making it difficult for those closest to the team to know the front office's inner workings.
New York Islanders: Lou Lamoriello embraces a code of silence
Lamoriello has been known to “keep his cards close to his vest” and last year he was known to keep contracts locked away in his drawer. Much like this season, the free-agency frenzy came and went with the Islanders not only not signing any free agents, but also not announcing that they had re-signed their own. It wasn't until August that a flurry of signings was announced.
August 6, 2021: Adam Pelech agreed to terms on an eight-year contract.
September 1, 2021: The team has signed Anthony Beauvillier, Casey Cizikas, Kyle Palmieri and Ilya Sorokin sign multi-year contracts.
September 10, 2021: The Islanders signed Zach Parise.
September 18, 2021: The Islanders signed Zdeno Chara to a one-year contract.
The respect shown to Lamoriello and their representation is evident in these cases. The way social media and the 24-hour news cycle run, keeping anything quiet is rare. But that's what all of these players did last summer, but is that what they are doing now?
What makes this year different is that in 2021, Lamoriello had made two trades on consecutive days (July 16 and 17) that were a strong indication that other transactions would happen. The Islanders moved Andrew Ladd's contract and multiple draft picks to Arizona for future considerations and Nick Leddy was sent to Detroit for a second-round pick and F Richard Panik.
In 2022, the Islanders need to shed salary to sign an impactful free agent with a new contract for Noah Dobson and a potential long-term extension for Mathew Barzal on the agenda. You can't keep a trade quiet (or so we think) so what is happening?
The top free agent on the market is Stanley Cup champion, Nazem Kadri. Rumblings of a connection between the Islanders and Kadri have been out there for weeks and with each passing day that he remains unsigned, thoughts of a Lamoriello arrangement grow a bit stronger. It's reasonable to assume he would not want to lose any leverage in trade discussions by being over the cap.
When the Islanders brought Lamoriello into the organization, brought immediate respect and credibility to a franchise that desperately needed it. If there are certain quirks to his proven history of success, so be it. When the season starts, we'll know if there were more 'secret signings' or if the fall-back plan was simply to stay the course with the existing group of players.
That won't help an anxious fan base get through the summer, but as the saga goes on, Lou Lamoriello won't be feeling the heat. And if he is, you'd never know it.