Step Four: Kyle Palmieri, Anders Lee, and depth on the wings
The Islanders are surely happy with the season that Kyle Palmieri has had. In fact, he could make himself a trade candidate, similar to Pageau and Nelson should he stay healthy and continue scoring like he has so far this season. But Palmieri is signed for one more year after this season, with a cap hit of $5M. A trade or buyout in the offseason would be a possibility to free up roster and cap space, but again, if Palmieri is still playing well, having him back next year for $5M would not be the worst outcome.
Meanwhile, Anders Lee has two more years left on his contract after this year, with a $7M cap hit (but salaries of $5.85M and $4.5M the last two years, respectively). This deal, even with the declining salaries, will be hard to move. I believe Lee is a perfect fit to replace Martin at LW4 next to Cizikas, while also seeing some time on the power play.
With the salary cap expected to rise next season, the Islanders should be in good position to replenish the talent on the wings through free agency or trade.
Step Five: July 1, 2024
Depending on what happens with Nelson, Pageau, and Palmieri, combined with the salary cap increase, the Islanders should have money to spend in free agency when players ranging from stars like William Nylander to solid depth scorers like Jake DeBrusk, Victor Olofsson, and Kevin Labanc will be available. The Islanders will also need to consider an eventual contract extension for Dobson, who is breaking out in a big way as the Isles' number-one defenseman this season.
Whether or not Lou Lamoriello is still calling the shots at this point is still to be determined. But the Islanders will be in position to make some key changes in the summer of 2024.