Isles UFA’s are heading to Free Agency
Word from Kyle Okposo’s agent yesterday is that he and his client will head to free agency this summer, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun. If you have been following along IslesBeat and twitter since last year, this should come as no surprise. Okposo has been looking for elite money as a top wing. That won’t come from the NY Islanders.
Let me add to this as well, since Frans Nielsen is also no closer to a new deal with the Isles… it looks like he will go to free agency. The only way I see Frans signing is IF the Isles make no NHL draft trades and they are unable to get a free agent of significance as a replacement…. and if Frans is still available. In other words, kind of slim. He will likely also get more $$$ via free agency from another team.
So unless something changes substantially, this seems very much the only scenario.
Should we even bother mentioning Matt Martin? Nope. Despite those who have loved his physical play, hits and 4th line play… he will also go to free agency. I expect Alan Quine to play wing in his stead, bringing different attributes to the 4th line.
All these are items that we discussed on the IslesBeat podcast, in blogs, and in tweets all season long. So if this is coming as some sort of surprise… well, sorry. I hope you listen and follow along this summer.
Moving Jaroslav Halak Not So Easy Anymore
It seems that Ben Bishop, Frederik Andersen and Marc-Andre Fleury COULD flood the goalie market due to a variety of reasons: expansion, pending UFA years, prospects in system, and etc.
In the meantime, notions that the Isles will move Jaroslav Halak could dry up if this is true. IF these other goalies hit the market, I can’t see much of a market for him, unless a pure salary dump (like NJ took Savard’s contract from the Bruins for a 2nd rounder).
However, those who think the Isles will pay for someone to take his contract… you might be missing some important things:
1. Savard might be a high cap hit, but only costs NJ a mere $500k. Halak costs $4.5 million in salary and cap hit.
2. Now add the fact the Isles do not have a 2nd and 3rd pick this year, plus…
3. Let’s be honest, it doesn’t quite seem their style.
This makes it likely that he remains an Islander despite a lot of conjecture at the end of last season.
Halak could be a boon as a tandem with Thomas Greiss. If you can’t create $$$ room, why not be happy with strength and depth in the goalie position??? Something Isles haven’t had in god knows how long…. since Osgood/DP?
As to what this means with Berube remains to be seen. Could he be retained as an RFA and he and Halak fight it out at camp? Or could his RFA rights be dealt via the upcoming draft? We will see.
Based on what we read online… those rumored to possibly be moved this NHL draft trade market are players like:
Tyson Barrie, D, Avalanche. With forward Nathan McKinnon coming due via RFA, seems that Avs would need to move one so to commit to the other. Others have felt that the Avs are even willing to move Matt Duchene. I’m not so sure. Seems like they would love for someone to overpay on Duchene, but seems far more likely RFA Barrie will go instead.
Scott Hartnell, W, Blue Jackets: 34 years old and carrying a $4.75 million cap hit. If you think Isles are a buyer for this, go get your head checked.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C, Edmonton: expendable. Especially if EDM can’t quite move Eberle and his money. Taylor Hall is most teams preference, but let us be honest…. As Newsday’s Arthur Staple aptly said: Isles lack the pieces to pry that without Hamonic. He’s right. Even RNH at $6 million per year is a leap of faith that scouts/analytics better have a good bead on for prospective teams.
Jacob Trouba, D, Winnipeg Jets: Word is Jets can’t afford BOTH RFA Trouba AND RFA center Mark Scheifele. Could move Trouba since already locked into some big D contracts already. I’d be far more interested to see if Scheifele somehow available. But nobody is giving anyone away, and that’s the bear bones of it all.
Sami Vatanen, D, Ducks
Jonas Brodin, D, Wild: $4.166 million AAV until 2020.
Rick Nash, W, Rangers. Isles fans complain about Grabo and Kulmein. Get a load of Ricky who gets $8 million next season and $8.25 the season after.
Beyond these names, not sure who else will be possibly potentially moving DESPITE all the supposition.
To be honest, nobody will be able to determine trade possibilities unless you just randomly throw 2 names per team and get lucky.
The NHL trade market depends on so many factors and there isn’t any auctions currently going on. I think there will be some unexpected players and options probably falling into the fray in the next week or two. There will certainly be some names perhaps not available at all thanks to coaching changes: aka you might want to stop asking about Montreal’s Max Pacioretty.
As of right now, seems despite all the hot air, LA’s Jeff Carter might not move, nor will Nick Foligno, nor will Kyle Turris (Guilty here because I supposed he would be a good improvement over KO), and hearing conflicting things on Matt Duchene from the Avs. Seems to me teams trying to get an estimation of their value last deadline have led to continuing conjecture in the vast vacuum before GMs meet next week.
So we all have felt the need to fill space with spitball conjecture.. but fact is, many teams are not even “in the market” or placing players in that market just yet until all are in Buffalo. So keep that in mind.
We will see how many of those names rumored actually move. Plus who suddenly becomes a conversation when the GMs finally all meet.
With news that Las Vegas seems a lock for 2017-2018… some teams will be operating thinking about expansion down line. Others will not. Next trade deadline is when expansion will be relevant to all across the board.
Can’t say what Isles will target just yet
If you have followed along my tweets and blogs, you know that the Isles have far less to spend than many prognosticated. I figure it to be about $8 million right now. If you missed that blog: CLICK HERE!
This means I expect the Isles to be at $62-63 million once finished signing RFAs and the cap around $72 million. This means $8 million to spend to replace Kyle Okposo and Fran Nielsen.
I guess this might be a rude awakening to many. It is how the Isles handle these items, including a back to earth cap room unless they move a player, that has yet to be determined.
Best answer to what the Islanders do is: who knows and we’ll see.
We will see what can be gleaned or heard from the NHL draft as GMs meet and start to work on next steps.
I do think the Isles are looking at trade market first to fill gaps over UFA market. Simply logic dictates this over the other. I think for them, all options are on the table IF it fills needs and fulfills their cap and pay scale vision. Best way to control that is via trade than free market. I know this goes against much assumption of just about everyone. I think trades are the Isles first line of attention.
Next week, when GMs finally lay down track work is when names and rumors get interesting. Until then, buyer beware to what some are selling. We will see what portends soon enough. Should be an interesting ride.’
So, I’d once again pay attention to the NHL draft for the Isles. Sit back and enjoy the show.
Let us hope that the trade market turns to their way.
Otherwise we will need to hope free agency is more lucrative than the usual disappointment over the years. Free agency is July 1st. This usually means for Isles fans that by July 3rd there is deep disappointment.
Let’s hope we avoid all that. Trade-lines go in the water next week. Isles UFA’s head elsewhere. If it works out… I am willing to bet it was nothing anyone quite predicted or names in the rumor-mills. Hang onto your hats. Full steam ahead.