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NHL Buyout Window Kicks off Busy Month

In the next few weeks, expect Islanders news on Lehner, Lee, Ho-Sang and oh yes, the NHL draft.

Montreal Canadiens v New York Islanders
Not affected.
Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The NHL summer calendar is partially set by whenever the Stanley Cup final ends, triggering the first buyout window and the deadline for club-initiated arbitration, which this year is set for today, June 15.

Teams don’t often choose to take players to arbitration, but buyouts are a feature every summer and they mark the beginning of a frenetic month in the offseason schedule. Here’s a rundown of what lies ahead and ways the Islanders could be involved:

June 15-30: Buyout Window

The buyout window begins today and lasts through 5 p.m. EDT on Sunday, June 30. There are lots of candidates around the league, like Corey Perry in Anaheim. There are also several players who would be good candidates if they hadn’t signed virtually buyout proof contracts. Guys like David Backes and Andrew Ladd, for example.

Leo Komarov and Cal Clutterbuck are theoretical buyout candidates in a vacuum, but almost no one expects that to happen this summer, and in fact since Clutterbuck is currently injured he cannot be bought out without his consent.

June 19: NHL Award$ Ceremonies

Before the operational stuff really kicks into gear, the NHL has its annual gala in Vegas where the big non-Stanley Cup trophies — that one was handed to the Blues this week — are announced.

The Islanders have candidates there, with Robin Lehner up for Vezina (goalie) and Masterton (sportsmanship, perseverance) and Barry Trotz up for the Jack Adams for Coach of the Year. They are very strong candidates for each, and of course Lehner and Thomas Greiss already teamed to earn the stats-based William Jennings Trophy.

Lehner, of course, is still un-signed but the two sides maybe inching closer to a deal. Another trophy win could increase the pressure, however.

June 21-22: NHL Entry Draft

The draft begins next Friday, June 21, in Vancouver. The Islanders have five picks: in rounds 1 (23rd), 2 (57th, from the Hamonic deal, where the Islanders send Calgary this year’s 4th-rounder), 5 (147th), 6 (178th), and 7 (209th).

What could change: Before that night is over, the Islanders may have added more picks if they decide to sell any of their extra defensemen, or a malcontent prospect...

June 23: Unrestricted Free Agent Flirtation Period

You know this one, because Pat Brisson and John Tavares turned it into a weeklong circus last summer before closing it with a pajama tweet.

Teams can begin contacting other teams’ unrestricted free agents at this time, discussing “general” interest but not actual money and term {wink wink}.

How it affects the Islanders: In addition to talking to potential targets, if Anders Lee and/or Lehner aren’t signed by this point, we’re gonna hear about other teams flirting with our spouses. That stings.

June 25: Qualifying Offers Due to RFAs by 5 p.m.

This is also a procedural thing, but the announcement of which restricted free agents receive qualifying offers (and by omission, which ones don’t) sometimes reveals news about who is no longer valued.

How it affects the Islanders: The Isles’ most prominent RFAs are Anthony Beauvillier, Michael Dal Colle and Joshua Ho-Sang. But qualifying offers are of such minimal commitment that it is crazy not to qualify a player coming off his ELC who still has NHL potential. Expect all of them to be qualified. Maybe arbitration-eligible minor leaguer John Stevens too.

RFAs who don’t receive a qualifying offer become free agents on July 1. Those who do receive offers cannot actually sign them until July 1, because rules.

June 26: Flirtation with OPP RFAs

Restricted free agents who have received qualifying offers can also be flirted with before July 1, beginning on June 26. Again, RFA offer sheets are rarely, RARELY signed (and perhaps rarely offered, too), but it’s a possibility.

How it affects the Isles: I mean, I guess if someone wanted to offersheet Beauvillier or Ho-Sang, but... Meanwhile, if you’re wanting to raid the Leafs or offer tons of money to Mitch marner, this is the time things get interesting. Remember that the higher the salary offer, the more compensation in the form of top draft picks is extracted.

July 1: Everything Hits the Fan

As you likely know, noon on July 1 (though we often hear stuff right before that, because tampering) is when free agents can start signing.

How it affects the Isles: If Lehner and Lee aren’t signed by this point, they’re gone, barring a sudden change of heart. Also, if the Islanders are players with any of the key free agents (Artemi Panarin, Matt Duchene, Sergei Bobrovsky), this is the time.

Also, Valtteri Filppula and Tom Kuhnhackl are UFAs. You forgot Poland: Don’t forget Luca Sbisa and Dennis Seidenberg too!