The Salary Cap Concerns of Lou Lamoriello and the Islanders
photo credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke
This is kind of a rough offseason for the Islanders. Most, if not all fans, myself included, probably won’t feel much better about anything until current RFA and top center Mathew Barzal is officially signed. With the cap space provided for the Islanders, making any key additions to the roster has been next to impossible this year. It has actually cost the Islanders a player, as they had to trade Devon Toews to the Avalanche in order to trim one less RFA off of General Manager Lou Lamoriello's to-do list. Defensemen Ryan Pulock secured himself a 2-year, $10 million dollar contract to remain on the Island. Alongside Barzal, verbal agreements with UFA Matt Martin, Cory Schneider, and Andy Greene, The Islanders may have roughly a dollar in cap space when all is said and done.
All kidding aside, I believe The Loufather will get everything in order. After all, there's a reason we all preach “In Lou We Trust”, right? But the big question on everyone's mind is: How?
I’m no NHL GM, but it’s always fun to think about these things and play with the scenario. Which is what I plan to do.
So, unfortunately (and I cannot stress that enough), Johnny Boychuk is the one who could evidently make this entire conundrum a much easier task to deal with. Boychuk is slated to receive $6 million dollars for two more years. If he is to officially retire, the Islanders will receive the entire $6 million back to the cap, thus bringing them back up to $9.905 million dollars in cap space. Theoretically, should Barzal receive $7 per year for x amount of time, you’re now down to $2.905 million in cap space. So, what about Martin, Schneider, and Greene?
Well, Greene shouldn’t command a ton of money, seeing he may be the 7D option if someone like Sebastian Aho is to get an opportunity to fill the defensive void left by Boychuk. I can’t see Greene commanding more than $1 million. I believe the same goes with Schneider. He has not played a ton the past few seasons, and on top of that, when he did play, he wasn’t an All-Star either, going a combined 9-19-6, a 3.30 GAA, and a .895 SV%. So yeah, less than stellar. Matt Martin, well, we all know what he brings to the table for the orange and blue. He’s a key component of the fourth line, and a key component to the locker room overall. When he is out of the lineup, the fourth line definitely can feel it. And the same goes for Cizikas and Clutterbuck as well. When those three are out together, and they are clicking, good luck. Martin is coming off a 4-year, $10 million dollar deal which saw him take home $2.5 million per year. This is a fair price tag on Martin, being a fourth-liner. However, seeing that he is undoubtedly a fan favorite, a gritty in your face type player, and truly a vital piece of this core, I would not surprise me to see him get $3-$3.5 million either. So, other than Boychuk, where else can the Islanders get some spare change from?
That is the hardest question so far. As all 31 teams are headed into an expansion draft season with the Seattle Kraken getting ready to join the NHL, a lot of factors regarding the long term future of the roster and cap space may stay unanswered until then.
But hey, In Lou We Trust, right?