We’re going on an impressive third day into free agency with absolutely zero Islanders signing news, which could be brilliance, trolling, or just plain do-it-my-way methodical strategic pace from GM Lou Lamoriello.
It’s easy to get the sense from social media that lots of fans are pretty angsty about the lack of news, though that may be easing up as more and more reporters conclude or cite a source that Zach Parise and Kyle Palmieri are essentially already signed. To me, while I can’t say I exactly expected it to roll this way, I’m not all that surprised.
The fact the Islanders’ key unrestricted free agents (Casey Cizikas, Palmieri) haven’t signed anywhere nor been linked elsewhere is a pretty decent sign Lamoriello’s up to his old tricks. The fact the Isles have lots of key restricted free agents needing contracts of unknown term and raise is a logical indicator that Lamoriello needs to take care of things — or file things with the league in this cap environment — in a certain sequence.
The first step in that sequence, presumably, will be figuring out if he’s trading or signing a new wing and/or left defenseman.
Which leads us to the Vladimir Tarasenko trade speculation that has popped up now and again over the last couple of weeks.
Tarasenko’s current team, the Blues, signed Brandon Saad for the opposite wing to a $4.5 million cap hit yesterday, a coup for them after Jaden Schwartz fled to Seattle and after they already acquired Pavel Buchnevich. That not only takes a winger off the market (though it never sounded like the left-wide Saad and the Islanders were flirting), it also gives the Blues some certainty as they look to deal their want-away winger.
Does that open the door for further conversation between the Isles and Devils? Is Tarasenko even the kind of fit Lamoriello is looking for? And is defense the bigger priority, considering all the (rather expensive) defensemen who’ve signed deals elsewhere while the Isles have a hole left by the Nick Leddy salary dump?
These are the things we ponder as we wait.
- Andrew Gross says don’t worry, and likewise suggests that the Isles must be busy in the Tarasenko auction poker. [Newsday]
- In coverage of the Saad deal, the Athletic’s Blues writer Jeremy Rutherford also says the Isles may be back in the mix for Tarasenko (along with New Jersey and Carolina), and speculates as many have that Anthony Beauvillier could be a target. Don’t think that works for the Isles, but it sure would be another nice answer to a problem for the Blues. [Athletic]
- Rutherford broke the trade request and has quoted unnamed sources suggesting the Blues have botched and trashed Tarasenko. A different St. Louis reporter (Ben Frederickson) has a different take (deep in this Q&A): “I think the stuff about his shoulder was an excuse, and a low one. And I was disappointed so many Blues fans took it and ran with it, slamming the team and the doctors without any evidence. Tarasenko played great after his first shoulder surgery. No one mentioned that. And yes, when elite athletes in a highly physical sport sustain multiple injuries to the same joint, there are chances things don’t get back to normal. Doctors are not capable of reversing time. Tarasenko’s new agent — he changes them often, if that tells you anything — is known for trashing teams to get his way.” [STLtoday]
- The Rangers sent a 3rd-round pick to Vegas for Ryan Reaves, who fights and chirps a lot and will be annoying, but should add some sideshow highlights each time the Smurfs face Tom Wilson. [Blueshirt Banter | Post]
- Larry Brooks urges Chris Drury not to panic in the pursuit of Jack Eichel. They face “lingering uncertainty in the middle, where the club is caught in a holding pattern created by pending extension talks with Mika Zibanejad, pending trade talks with Buffalo about Jack Eichel and ambiguity about the plan for Ryan Strome.” [Post]
- For their part, the Sabres insist they are in no hurry and under no pressure to trade Eichel. [NHL | TSN]
- The Blue Jackets went BIG with re-signing Zach Werenski at a $9.58 million cap hit. Man, fascinating that both members of that pairing got $9.5. [The Cannon]
Going to love to witness the "did Seth make Zach or did Zach make Seth?" thing play out.— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) July 30, 2021
Anyway, Werenski is currently the third-highest paid defenseman in the NHL for 2022-23. Weeeeeee!https://t.co/Kz286Ksh9k
- It was five years, $22.5 million for Saad and the Blues. [NHL]
- Meanwhile, Corey Perry left the Cup runners up to join the Cup champs for two years. [NHL]
- Ryan Getzlaf and Gabriel Landeskog had very different experiences encountering unrestricted free agency for the first time, but in the end both captains stayed put. [NBC]
- Here are five leftover wingers the Leafs could still target in free agency. Funny enough, turns out any team needing wingers could target them. [Sportsnet]
- The Wild are already feeling the pain of their Parise and Suter buyouts, with slim cap room forcing them to be very disciplined in spending. [Athletic]
- For Suter’s part, he says teams’ interest in him confirms he’s still got it and will be fine as he ages. [NHL]
- Justin Bourne with a couple of sentences on just about every free agent signing. [Sportsnet]
- Alex Ovechkin has his eyes on Wayne Gretzky’s goal record. [NHL]
- Dougie Hamilton wants to be a leader on a Devils team with lots of young talent. [NHL]
- Should the Leafs trade Morgan Rielly as he enters the final year of his contract? [4th Period]
- It’s just impossible to say how much the Canucks improved with their flurry of moves. [Sportsnet]
- “Mom, you’ll never guess who called me.” A day after publicly coming out, Luke Prokop got a call from Elton John. [NHL]
- In the on-going outside investigation of the Blackhawks handling of sexual assault allegations against a then-video coach, Nick Boynton sounds off, says he’s tired of guys who knew about it not speaking up. [TSN]