It has been a busy 24 hours in the NHL as teams have made moves to position themselves ahead of the Seattle Kraken expansion draft on Wednesday. The New York Islanders were one of the busiest teams ahead of Saturday’s roster freeze, working to shed some significant salary cap space.
It could be setting the stage for a significant move in the coming weeks and months in an effort to help them make another deep postseason run.
They started on Friday by sending veteran defenseman Nick Leddy to the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for Richard Panik, with the Red Wings retaining half of Panik’s salary.
Then on Saturday they sent Andrew Ladd to the Arizona Coyotes, along with three draft picks (two second-round picks and a third-round pick) to remove the final two years of his contract from the books. The Islanders received nothing in return except for the salary cap space.
[Related: Islanders send Nick Leddy to Red Wings]
Those two moves give the Islanders more than $12 million in salary cap space to work with this offseason. They will add another $6 million to that at the start of the season when veteran defender Johnny Boychuk is moved to the long-term injured list. So figure the Islanders have $18 million to spend this offseason. That is a lot. It also does not take into account the possibility of another contract being shed in Wednesday’s expansion draft.
Before they can get into adding to the roster there are some in-house moves that need to be made.
- Top defensemen Adam Pelech is a restricted free agent and will require a significant contract.
- Anthony Beauvillier is also a restricted free agent and due for a new contract.
- Goalie Ilya Sorokin, the future of the position on Long Islang, is also a pending restricted free agent.
Those three players will no doubt eat into a significant portion of that $18 million in space. But they should not take all of it.
There is also the possibility of them perhaps trying to re-sign trade deadline acquisition Kyle Palmieri who proved to be a great fit in the postseason.
Assuming they let Palmieri walk, there are a lot of interesting possibilities for the Islanders out there in both trade and the free agent market.
[Related: Blues’ Tarasenko reportedly asks for trade]
Vladimir Tarasenko has requested a trade out of St. Louis, and assuming he is not selected by Seattle in the expansion draft (he has reportedly been left unprotected by the Blues) could be an option. It would be a risky move given Tarasenko’s recent injury history, but there is also the possibility of St. Louis retaining salary and the fact his trade cost may not be all significant given his current value.
Gabriel Landeskog is one of the top potential free agents and, as of now, seems to have hit a roadblock in his negotiations with the Colorado Avalanche.
Lamoriello has an extensive history with Zach Parise, and was even rumored to have tried to trade for him at the deadline a couple of years ago. He is now a free agent after his deal was bought out by Minnesota.
You also can not overlook Taylor Hall if he does not re-sign in Boston.
Or would they get really wild with it and pursue somebody on defense? Devon Toews and Nick Leddy have been traded the past two years and they could certainly use another top-four option. Seth Jones is available, while Dougie Hamilton, Ryan Suter, and Keith Yandle are all set to hit the open market as free agents.
Bottom line, the Islanders should have some money to play with and some options to use it on.
It also might be the time to go all in for it. The Islanders have advanced in the Stanley Cup Playoffs three years in a row and reached the Conference Finals/semifinal round in each of the past two years only to lose to the Tampa Bay Lightning. For whatever flaws you think they might have, they have consistently been close to the Stanley Cup Final and can clearly cause problems in the playoffs. They also do not exactly have a young team, and have depleted the draft pick cupboard over the past couple of years with additions. The window is there. Right now.
If there is one thing the Islanders need to get through a team like Tampa Bay in the East it might be another impact player that can break a game open.
They might have put themselves in a position to pursue one of them.