Sorry to kick Friday off with the same old Islanders Cap Hell story, but today was supposed to be — and still is, in a way — a key offseason date. Ryan Pulock signed so his arbitration hearing doesn’t take place today. But there’s another wrinkle worth covering:
Buyout Window, Part 2: Still Nothing to See Here
If you follow CBA minutia enough to know that there’s a second buyout window for teams that had arbitration filings, but you don’t follow it so closely as to recall all the details, you might appreciate knowing that the Islanders don’t really have any viable options.
As Arthur Staple explained in the Athletic:
With Pulock signing, the Islanders will have a second buyout window that opens on Friday for 24 hours. The caveat is that they can only buy out a player who makes more than $4 million AAV, which means Leo Komarov or Thomas Hickey can’t be bought out.
Staple went on to remind why buyouts for Andrew Ladd or Johnny Boychuk are non-starters (you should know that already, as their long-term, bonus-heavy deals were “buyout proof” on the day they were signed, sort of a Snow-ian gift for his successors). That leaves the Isles few realistic options, as buyouts for Actually Key Players like Jordan Eberle, Nick Leddy or Josh Bailey would be “drastic.”
That puts Lou Lamoriello in the position, post-Barzal signing (whenever that happens), of finding a magic solution amid the NHL’s cap-strapped trade market, where the Lightning could not even give away Tyler Johnson for free.
If you’re an NHL fan of a certain vintage*, you might have unblinking In Lou We Trust faith that the ol’ gipper will find a smooth and unblemished way out, as he is the type of GM who can make Scott Stevens appear out of thin air (and later get additional compensation for Stevens trying to flee), find salary cap angels, even join the Original Six as the only teams to dodge the RBK Edge uniform monstrosity.
*Greg Wyshynski of ESPN is such a fan, having been a Devils faithful during their Lou-led rise, and argues of the Isles cap situation: “Normally this would concern me, but Lou Lamoriello is the Islanders’ general manager, which means he probably gets a special dispensation from the NHL to bury the cap hits of Johnny Boychuk, Thomas Hickey, Leo Komarov and Andrew Ladd in a colony on Mars.”
Or you could be a fan of recent, “BTW Lou was just named GM of the Year” vintage. But the Lou of the past decade has not gotten to bend all the rules (see: Ilya Kovalchuk initial signing...but then again the punishment was lightened, and Kovalchuk was later allowed to “retire”) and his short-sighted cap splurges have usually come with a cost.
So we’ll see. The Islanders sure have enough aging contracted players who skate like they sure look like they would qualify for LTIR (or Mars),
The bottom line is we’re a long way off from when the necessary moves will be made. Barzal probably gets signed before such moves happen, thereby firmly circumscribing how much further cap room the Isles need.
Here, There, and Elsewhere
- Pulock, by the way, shared his excitement at agreeing to a deal and about the future of the Islanders. Hard to see this relationship going south, but the cap comes at you hard. [Isles]
- Goal of the 21st Century Poll: What to vote for? Eberle (scoring his first, as an Oiler), or Tarasenko making the Rangers look stupid? [Sportsnet]
- Some Leafs fans discuss whether Lamoriello is still good and apologize for saying kind of yes. [YouTube]
- Old friend Ryan Strome and the Rangers agreed to terms before their arbitration hearing. [ESPN]
- Older friend Ray Ferraro reflects on his life and growth as an announcer. [Athletic]
- Four players who should benefit from the long layoff. [Sportsnet]