Last summer New York Islanders fans were waiting for signings to be announced.
This summer New York Islanders are waiting for signings to be announced.
But this time it's different. A year ago, the contracts Lou Lamoriello had in his drawer were all extensions for his own players. Anthony Beauviller, Casey Cizikas, Kyle Palmieri and Ilya Sorokin.
New York Islanders: This waiting game is different than a season ago
Not only that but there were no corresponding moves to make. Earlier that off-season, Andrew Ladd and Nick Leddy were moved to create necessary cap space and Jordan Eberle was selected by the Seattle Kraken in the expansion draft. The Islanders had all the room necessary to retain their free agents and restricted free agents.
When the team casually announced the signings, it was a formality. Consistent with Lamoriello's team-first mantra, rather than each signing getting its own spotlight, the players shared the moment and met with the media and talked about unfinished business. The GM didn't speak that day leaving questions about transactions to come left unanswered. Zach Parise and Zdeno Chara would sign later in September for the league minimums.
Even if you believe business has been conducted, there is still business yet to be done and that makes the rest of the off-season anxious for fans and those on the current roster. This time around, fans have to wait for the next shoe to drop to find out officially what has presumably already happened. It's a very odd situation to be in.
Increasingly, signs are pointing toward Nazem Kadri having agreed to a deal with the AAV and the term being of much interest given his age. There is also the likelihood that there are new contracts for RFAs Noah Dobson and Alexander Romanov.
But to make the math work, something has gotta give and someone has got to go. Despite the code of silence, the Islanders' salary cap circumstances are no secret to other team executives. For instance, Lamoriello does not have leverage if he intends to trade Josh Bailey to shed salary and he'll likely want to avoid another Ladd-type deal that cost multiple sweeteners in exchange for non-existent future considerations.
If there was a 'hockey trade' to be made, it would've been made already. It sounded as if things got serious with the Vancouver Canucks at the draft for JT Miller. What we don't know is whether the 13th overall pick was the centerpiece of an Islanders offer or if rostered players were discussed. If the latter, Lamoriello might be waiting to revisit trade discussions with teams before deciding that making a deal solely to shed salary is the only way to make the numbers work. Could Beauvillier or even JG Pageau become suddenly expendable if Kadri is in the fold? We'll find out, so we think.
Lamoriello has time and he intends to use it. Like last year, the dominoes need to fall, just not in the same order. And this time around there are players on the roster waiting and wondering whether they will be included in whatever wave of moves needs to occur for the team to announce their signings.
The lack of signings might feel the same, but the circumstances are very different.