2nd reason for optimistic: The core is still young and here to stay.
Lamoriello has signed many long-term contracts in his time as President of Hockey Operations. He has looked wise in locking up Mathew Barzal and Sorokin for the next eight years at ages 26 and 28. Lamoriello has also signed some headscratchers, most notably Pierre Engvall and Scott Mayfield to seven years this past offseason. Some seemed well deserving on the surface but have had mixed results, such as Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock. In fairness, most general managers in hockey have whiffed on big contracts.
However, the Islanders' core group of players to build around is here to stay if the team decides to rebuild. Barzal and Horvat will control the top line for the next seven seasons, while Sorokin will still be competing for a Vezina Trophy. With Lamoriello’s commitment to locking up homegrown talent, fans have confidence Noah Dobson will earn his payday as well. These are great building blocks to enter and exit a rebuild with given none of them are 30 years old yet and all have reasonable cap hits for their production.
The ideal blueprint for an Isles rebuild would be to accumulate draft capital by moving players with value off the roster. While trades of fan favorites will sting the emotions in us, we can hope to have multiple first-round picks making less money surrounding these core players for years to come. Furthermore, having this talent also means the Isles can remain competitive through a minor rebuild, such as the New York Rangers between 2018 and 2021. As we witnessed with the Florida Panthers in 2023, all a team has to do is clinch the playoffs and anything can happen, regardless of age or talent level.