Steve touched on this the other day, but I’ll just add: the Islanders lost to the Stanley Cup champions, arguably the main Cup favorites from beginning to end, and gave themselves a chance against them even without Casey Cizikas and Adam Pelech. Falling short, but not bad.
If this was a “go for it” year — and their cap situation and upcoming RFAs has long indicated it was — then semifinal loss to the Cup champs isn’t a failing effort.
Meanwhile, when Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman were drafted at the top in consecutive years a decade ago, it would’ve been a great bet that the Lightning would be a Cup champion during their careers. That it took over 10 years, and that they essentially did it without Stamkos, those are the aspects I’d never have predicted.
Guess that’s why we watch this sports thing.
As steady as Lou Lamoriello is, and as smoothly as he’s gotten himself out of cap pretzels before, this offseason the Islanders will be at the mercy of forces beyond their control and somewhat beyond forecasting. The COVID-effected flat cap puts a squeeze on them and many teams, and it also makes free agency more unpredictable than normal.
The top draw in Alex Pietrangelo is headed for free agency as he and his representation seek top pre-Covid dollar or “respect” in a very current-Covid world. The Blues captain sees what the team did with acquisition Justin Faulk (pre-Covid) and what the Predators did with Roman Jose (pre-Covid) and thinks he should get that and more either in St. Louis or elsewhere.
The Islanders don’t have a UFA like that, but Mathew Barzal’s contract certainly gets more complicated thanks to the financial uncertainty of the pandemic and the flat cap it has caused. Devon Toews and Ryan Pulock have also taken on key roles and need RFA deals.
What do you do if you’re in their shoes? Take a short-term deal — maybe let arbitration settle and enforce that — and hope the financials are better in a year? Or go the Adam Pelech route, like the initial (and then second) Frans Nielsen and Andrew MacDonald contracts of yore, and settle for long-term security?
- Lou spoke to media, was cagey as usual, but said he’s confident in re-sign free agents (RFAs...duh, they can’t really go anywhere) and hopeful about the UFAs. [Full presser @ Isles site | Newsday | Athletic]
- However, if you prefer Lou’s presser in official site 5 Takeaways form, here is that. It includes confirmation that Ilya Sorokin is a human being. [NHL]
- And if you’re just medically inclined, Lou provided updates on the three injuries, each requiring surgery, to Casey Cizikas, Adam Pelech and Tom Kuhnhackl: “They’re all in a rehab situation and all will be ready for the start of training camp.” [Isles]
- Noel and Dan also chewed over Lou’s comments in their Isles Buzz podcast season wrap.
- Season tickets are now on sale for the arena at Belmont. If you and the rest of the world is lucky, people will actually be able to attend games there in droves. [Newsday]
- Speaking of pre-pandemic concepts...would the Wild still trade Zach Parise to the Isles? “The cap is flat, Lamoriello needs to make sure he counts dollars and cents for a Matt Barzal re-signing, and the Wild would be trading their leading goal scorer and probably be forced to take back an exorbitant contract like Andrew Ladd, Johnny Boychuk or Nick Leddy.” [Athletic]
- 31 Thoughts: Including this on Patrik Laine: “I also wonder about the Islanders. It’s the kind of stealth move Lou Lamoriello would love. But they’ve got cap issues and it’s not like he’d give us a hint.” EMPHASIS ON ‘CAP ISSUES.’ [Sportsnet]
- Looking at the top names headed to free agency. [Newsday]
- In news about as surprising as Thomas Greiss heading to market, Braden Holtby will also be hitting free agency. [Fourth Period]
- End of an era: Exactly and indistinguishably like Rick DiPietro before him, Henrik Lundqvist’s New York career ends in a buyout. [Post | Sportsnet] Maybe the Capitals should pursue him. [Japers’ Rink]
- So the NHL pulled off this impressive feat with the bubble, 33,000 tests and no positives to start and complete the playoffs. Nobody will do that for a longer time. But what about mini-hybrid bubbles? “The format of the 2021 season hinges largely on how the science and local health authority regulations that evolve over the next months and as the calendar turns.” [TSN]
- Oscar Klefbom has yet another shoulder issue, which puts the Oilers in a blueline bind. [Sportsnet]
- Here’s the order for the first round of the NHL draft. The Islanders are not part of it. [NHL]
- Sorry to disappoint: Switzerland has canceled this year’s Spengler Cup. [Sportsnet]