The New York Islanders are one of the top teams in the NHL and with free agency starting they will look at the market and try to improve. New York made a big step in the right direction this past season making the Eastern Conference championship and giving the Tampa Bay Lightning a great fight. This team was very similar to the 2019 Islanders that made it to the second round of the playoffs. A big reason why this team has made it so far these past two seasons is because of the team’s chemistry and the players buying into Trotz’s system.
Many Islanders fans want the team to trade for Patrik Laine and/or sign Taylor Hall. Those two players are not what Lou Lamoriello and the rest of the front office should be looking at right now. Laine is going to take a lot to acquire, likely a top defenseman, some top picks and possibly a top prospect and the Islanders should not be looking to part ways with any of that at this time. Taylor Hall on the other hand is an unrestricted free agent which means any team can sign him. But he is going to cost over $8 million a year and he is about to be 29 years old.
Instead of looking at the big names on the trade block or on the open market the Isles must look at their own free agents this year.
Some Islanders free agents this year are Mat Barzal, Devon Toews, Ryan Pulock, Matt Martin among others. Barzal, Pulock and Toews are restricted free agents which means that the Islanders have the opportunity to match any offer from another team. The Islanders only have about $9 million in cap space. However each team is allowed to go up to 10% over the salary cap which is a little over $81 million. If the Islanders wanted to use all of that then they would have about $17 million in cap space.
Barzal is likely to get $8-9 million a year. He is the Islanders franchise player, the two time all-star, the fastest skater in the entire NHL and he is only 23 years old. He performed well in the postseason and he should definitely get his money. Barzal’s point production has gone down the past two seasons with Trotz taking over but this means he has bought into his system. However the contract talks between the Islanders and Barzal have been going on for months now and the fact that he will be able to sign an offer sheet today is definitely worth noting.
Toews and Pulock are two of the Islanders top defensemen. Pulock averaged over 22 minutes a game in the postseason and he played extremely well all season. He was on the Islanders top power play unit. During the season he scored 10 goals and had 25 assists. He has the best shot of any defensemen on the team. The Islanders should sign him on a multi-year deal worth around $5-6 million a year.
Toews on the other hand also had a decent season overall scoring six goals along with 22 helpers. Both Toews and Pulock are on the Islanders power play and are much needed as well. Neither of these guys should even be talked about in any potential trade or possibly lost to an offer sheet. The Islanders are a team known for their defense and losing either of them would decrease the Islanders Stanley cup chances significantly.
The Islanders overall team is great how it already is. Barzal, Pulock and Toews all play big parts on this team and the Islanders must resign all 3 of them. As things stand right now a trade for Laine or a signing of Hall would mean the Islanders would be unable to sign Toews and/or Pulock and both of those guys need to stay.
The Islanders must re-sign Barzal, Pulock and Toews before even thinking about a free agent signing or trade from another team.