Anybody who closely follows hockey through social media, mainly Twitter (X), has heard of JFresh. The Analytics Columnist with EP Rinkside has become known for his player cards along with breakdowns of the NHL and draft prospects. Recently, he ranked the best and worst salary outlooks in the NHL, ranking the NY Islanders right where you may expect them... Near the bottom.
JFresh begins his column with, "Lou Lamoriello is here for a good time, not a long time." That alone should tell you everything you need to know about his feelings on the Isles' cap situation over the next few seasons.
The Isles have three defensemen signed for the next six seasons Adam Pelech, Ryan Pulock, and Scott Mayfield, all with no-trade clauses. Considering the skill set of Pelech and Pulock, this isn't all so bad as long as they stay healthy. Mat Barzal and Bo Horvat will earn $9.15M and $8.5M over the next eight seasons, as the team's top earners. Barzal has had one sensational season since he came into the league, and Horvat has been a solid producer, but it seems as if he was paid off his projections last season, which he ultimately didn't live up to.
"This coming season could be make-or-break for him (Horvat)," says JFresh. "Horvat was a roughly 30 goal 30 assist player for the Canucks, rode an absurd hot streak where every point shot that hit his stick went in, signed a massive contract, and then went back to his usual production after the trade. Is he more than a decent second-line center?"
Horvat has the two-way capabilities to be a top-line center, even though his point production may not say so. He's still young enough to improve but will have to do so soon before he's chastised for the amount he's earning while not living up to his salary.
Some of the contracts for the Isles' top performers aren't all bad. They only have one player earning over $9M, but it's the contracts given to the middle-of-the-pack guys which will begin to pain the Isles soon enough.
"Add all this to the murderer's row of pretty good players in their thirties signed for a couple of years too long and when this team goes south," said JFresh. "It will be a hell of a lot of work for whoever inherits the mess – assuming he (Lamoriello) retires before turning 85, which is no guarantee."
Whoever Lamoriello's successor will have some salary cap surgery to perform, but for now, that's a problem for a different day.