Nothing has changed on the New York Islanders front in recent days.
Ok, I shouldn’t say that. John McLean is Lane Lambert’s newest new assistant coach and Brian Wiseman won’t be joining the staff. The team also purchased 50,000 Mega Millions tickets for season-ticket holders. If you are an “STH”and reading that for the first time, I regret to inform you that you didn’t win.
But from a free-agent, trade, off-season moves perspective. It’s still silence from GM Lou Lamoriello. As the quiet continues, so does the rumor mill chatter and, there’s a feeling that all that means is that the Islanders have already conducted business when it comes to Nazem Kadri.
First, on his 32 Thoughts Podcast with Jeff Marek, SportsNet’s Elliotte Friedman That the “Islanders are in it,” giving credibility to the hunch that the Islanders and Kadri have something in the works and the rest of the NHL is waiting to hear the details. Then, on Sunday afternoon, a tweet from a former Minnesota Wild scout Mark Seidel was the latest fanning of the Nazim Kadri to the Islanders flames. Seidel is currently the director of player personnel for the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL).
There’s no reason for him to make this up. He hedges by pointing out that he is “FAR from an Insider” but it’s clear that he has connections to the NHL and one of those connections has him very confident that a Kadri to the Islanders deal has happened or is happening.
The strange thing about a potential Kadri signing is that it isn’t being fully embraced by the fanbase. At least, not yet. Kadri was among the top 5 or 6 available free agents this summer and is coming off a career year and a Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche. Yet, his age, his position, and likely cost have Islanders fans mixed on the idea of signing him.
In AMNY, Joe Pantorno raised 3 questions surrounding a potential acquisition of Kadri. As a natural center, his acquisition would move that one of Mathew Barzal or Brock Nelson – the team’s two most productive forwards, to wing. Nelson has previous experience there from earlier in his career, but has thrived as the teams No. 2 in recent years and was especially efficient a year ago. Meanwhile, Barzal has never played wing in the NHL and it would be ironic to turn to him as the top line winger the top line has needed the last three seasons to pair with him.
Kadri is coming off a career year, finishing with 87 points (28G, 59A) in 71 games and a great Stanley Cup Playoffs. Even with the number of suitors limited, he is going to command at least $6-7M AAV. The Islanders’ cap situation calls for salary to be shed to fit a player of Kadri’s caliber. If Seymon Varlamov continues to not be an option to move this off-season, that leaves forwards Anthony Beuvillier and Josh Bailey as the likely candidates to be moved to create the necessary space.
“It mainly boils down to the big contracts of Josh Bailey ($5 million AAV) and Anthony Beauvillier ($4.15 AAV) as obvious candidates to be offloaded to give Lamoriello some breathing space while ensuring a spot on the roster remains open for Oliver Wahlstrom, who will be looked upon to take another step forward in his development in 2022-23. If Kadri is added to the roster and no other changes are made, though, one of those forwards will be the odd man out.”
– Joe Pantorno, AMNY
Where there’s smoke there’s fire, but where there is silence, is there an Islanders signing?
We’ll find out soon enough, but for now the best case scenario for the Islanders is a move that some fans won’t love in the short-term because of what it might mean for the long term. But a move that all know would make the team better in 2022-23.