NHL teams do not want to take contracts these days. Every team has a couple they would love to dump. Take a look at the terrible contracts the Columbus Blue Jackets are habitually trying to move.
Unless you find where someone is willing to take on salary… you are stuck in a tight situation.
So, as I see it, the NY Islanders will be about between $62 to $63 million range when finished with their RFAs. IF the NHLPA says yes to the escalator, the cap could be about $72 or so. Could also be only $70 million. Could be also just under $71. Seems like that possible $74 million is a faded memory now.
Remember: the Isles will need to have 13 forwards, 7 defensemen, and 2 goalies. They have only 8 Forwards, 7 dmen, 2 goalies on contract as of this moment… and are at just under $58 million.
So, if the team is 62-63, cap 72, and you have a budget from owners… what do you do?
“Cutting guys” doesn’t work. You still have to pay them. And you still need to replace them via the roster. Once again, must account for 13 forwards, 7 defensemen, and 2 goalies. AND nobody is taking contracts without bouncing contracts back. Money not so liquid anymore, is it?
Same goes to this assumption that Mikhail Grabovski is somehow coming off the roster due to concussions. Yes… he’s injured. But.. he is still getting paid right now… right?
LTIR: Long Term IR still affects total yearly cap, not to mention the Isles yearly budget.
Per the NHL/NHLPA CBA: (ii) The Player Salary and Bonuses of the Player that has been deemed unfit-to-play shall continue to be counted toward the Club’s Averaged Club Salary as well as count against the Players’ Share during the League Year in which the Player is deemed unfit-to-play (including during the period such unfit-to-play Player is on a Bona Fide Long-Term Injury/Illness Exception Conditioning Loan to another league)
LTIR also requires the player to go along with it to agree to it, btw. NHL and NHLPA must approve.
Above all: LTIR is only used when team is at cap ceiling… Something the Isles won’t be at. They might find someone in a trade or via UFA to fill a gap or two. But expect them to be under that cap ceiling with a bit of breathing room for emergency/contingency.
No convenient fixes for Isles fans to feel like this summer is Xmas. This might be a big dose of reality to some of the gleefully written shopping lists coming from pundits, bloggers and fans. This will not be a summer of Lucic, Stamkos and Isles crashing above the cap ceiling.
So… how do the NY Islanders get better?
I think the Isles, despite looking to get better via trade scenarios and under-radar UFA… are most likely to stick to their plan and draft. They will keep looking for diamonds in the rough, filling gaps where they can via UFA and trades, if possible.
Isles brass will expect Strome and Lee to have more a season like 2014-15. That is on coaching, and player performance, to provide. This is an “or else” item that will really be a good amount of pressure on coaching.
It also might be the most likely way, based on overall probability.
Are other outcomes possible? Sure. But they are, at this juncture, looking more and more unlikely.
No, this blog isn’t sexy. It isn’t pie in the sky. It isn’t demanding the Isles spend, saying that the math is there, but not bothering to do the math. But reality is has been missing for a couple weeks now. There seems to be an ignoring of some hockey realities.
You never know the opportunities that present itself between now and the draft… and again come from the draft to July 1st.
However, this is the far most likely outcome just based on the reality of the numbers, contracts, cap situation league wide, and market. Unless something comes together from those markets… well… reality sucks.
“Well, aren’t the Isles going to trade Halak, as has been rumored since back in late March?”
Two points need to be made:
The Islanders need a partner. Fact is: there is a GLUT of middle tier goalies in the NHL. Nobody wants to trade for anyone UNLESS they see that goalie as a young healthy #1.
Now add the fact that there might be also a crowd of goalies teams are trying to move. MAF from Pittsburgh. Varlamov from Colorado. Maybe even Bishop from Tampa Bay.
Still think Halak and his $4.5 million against the cap is going for a draft pick?
Here is another point to be made, that seems to be forgotten…
Goaltending was a strength for the Isles that got them to 100 points last season AND the 2nd round. Are you so sure that getting rid of Halak is the BEST DIRECTION to go?
There seems to be a basic ignorance on how important good/consistent goaltending is, and having that depth. This was my stance when the “trade Halak” conjecture started, and it is still my stance now. Plus, fact is, nobody is taking on that contract UNLESS they toss a bad contract back at us.
So… still at 62-63. No room for $10 million a year players. Are shopping lists burning yet? At least scale it down. This is my strong suggestion to avoid bitter disappointment come July 3rd.