The New York Islanders were one of the fortunate teams when it came to the Vegas Golden Knights expansion draft. Will they be as fortunate this time around with the Seattle expansion?
The Islanders gave up Jean-Francois Berube to the Golden Knights. The goaltender left via free agency before ever suiting up for the eventual Western Conference Champions. It was a steep price as the Islanders also sent a 1st round pick in 2017, a second round pick in 2019, and Jake Bischoff. They were able to also off load the injured contract of Mikhail Grabovski.
Below I will outline a potential protection list for the Isles.
The newly minted Captain of the franchise is on the last year of his current deal. I do not believe the team would have named him the captain, if they had no intent on resigning him long term. He is currently leading the team in goals with 14 and has also notched 14 assists. He has been a great follow up captain following the departure of John Tavares. He will be donning the blue and orange well into the future.
Bailey was having a career year for the New York Islanders last season, and they rewarded him with a healthy contract extension. He has certainly lived up to the potential. He has 9 goals and 23 assists and is second on the team in total points. He has a great two way game and will certainly be protected in the upcoming expansion draft.
The runaway Calder Trophy winner in 2017-18 has followed up that campaign well. He is currently leading the Islanders in scoring with 38 points in 39 games. He had a performance for the ages last week, when he recorded a natural hat trick against his former teammate, Tavares. With two more years left on his entry level contract (ELC), expect a huge bump in pay before the expansion draft.
This young winger is making the most of his limited ice time. He has tallied 11 goals so far this season and I would suspect that he hits the 20 goal plateau before season’s end. The 21 year old, soon to be restricted free agent, is positioning himself for a nice pay jump and long term stability.
While he is not an offensive juggernaut, Leddy provides plenty of punch on the power play. He is tied for second on the team with eight power play assists. He is a very smart player with great vision. He does carry a bit of a high cap hit at $5.5M, but it would be worthwhile for the Islanders to keep a veteran presence on the blue line.
This 24 year old, right shot defenseman, is certainly coming into his own this season. Under the guidance of Barry Trotz, his ice time has increased and he is relishing the opportunity. He has 3 goals and 15 assists and has only taken two penalties this season. He is a plus player on a team that was the worst defensively last season. He will be a restricted free agent following the 2019-20 season, but has certainly done enough to warrant an extension.
Pelech is another player that is greatly benefiting from the Trotz system. He is a +10 on the season and has already matched his goal total from last season. His ice time is down a bit from what it previously was, but I believe his game is better suited for a bottom four pairing. His current contract will expire at the conclusion of the 2020-21 season, but I can see the Islanders extending him.
Scott is one of the best value contracts on the New York Islanders roster. He is only making $1.5M and his contract runs through the 2022-23 season. At the price tag, he is rewarding them with top four production. He has 3 goals and 11 assists with a +12 rating. There is no way the Isles let this kind of value leave for free.
I know this may seem like a weird choice to protect, but the options are limited here unless the Islanders sign someone in free agency. The Isles signed Lehner to a one-year deal this offseason at $1.5M rate. He rewarded them with a 10-6-3 record with a .929 SV%. It would be ridiculous to assume the Islanders would not bring him back. Even if it was only to serve as a backup or a mentor to the next generation of net minders. At 27 years old, maybe he can resurrect his career and be the Islanders long term solution.
Who do they lose?
Lou Lamorillo and company are going to have to make some deals with the Seattle management group, but they have to find a way to move this contract. The oft-injured 35 year old still has four more years left at a $6M price tag. It may end up costing them another 1st round pick, but it may be worth it for the cap relief. Especially with the explosion of young talent throughout the NHL. It may become pertinent to start using offer sheets.
stats provided by hockey-reference.com
salary cap info provided by capfriendly.com