The NHL has announced that the salary cap will raise a million next season, bringing the cap to $82.5 million. Having additional money on the cap is never a bad thing for any organization.
The Islanders are in the process of evaluating the current roster for what appears to be an extremely crucial off-season.
Lou Lamoriello and company surely have created multiple scenarios on how to attack the summer, but does the additional cap space change plans?
New York Islanders Cap Space
After the announcement from the NHL, it appears the Islanders have $12,255,833 in cap space for the summer per CapFriendly.
Like any team, the Islanders will have to take care of their own players and then see how they can approach the free agent and trades markets. Although one million may not seem that large, it can certainly make a difference when negotiating contracts.
The key restricted free agents for the Islanders are Noah Dobson, Kieffer Bellows and Robin Salo.
The unrestricted free agents are Zdeno Chara, Any Greene and Austin Czarnik.
Dobson has had a breakout season, scoring 10 goals and 27 assists. With 16 of his points on the power play, Dobson is emerging as the quarterback of the first unit.
Despite the recent success, Dobson should not command the contract similar to Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock. Depending on the term of the deal, the Islanders should expect to give $3 to $4.5 million per year.
Bellows, to a much less degree than Dobson, is having a career year with 4 goals and 9 assists in 33 games played. Bellows has not had a consistent opportunity to play in the NHL and therefore will not command much more than his current $750,000 contract.
Similar to Bellows, Salo has even less time in the NHL. Salo played 18 games this season and certainly handled himself well. Surely that will not be enough to earn a significant raise.
The needs this off-season can be exaggerated, but Lamoriello wants a different type of defenseman and the Islanders have always been a team lacking a true sniper.
Having roughly half of the available cap space taken by retaining restricted free agents, the Islanders will have enough space to grab at least one impactful player. That can change if salary is unloaded in a trade though.
The Islanders are in a position to adjust the roster and make another run at the Stanley Cup.
Caution on excessive spending will be needed as the following season, Lamoriello will need to retain key players in Mathew Barzal, Oliver Wahlstrom, and unrestricted free agent defenseman Scott Mayfield.
Those are three important players that will be receiving a raise. Some relief will come in Seymon Varlamov's $5 million coming off the books, but Lamoriello will take this one off-season at a time as his career is surely ending sooner than later.