After the NHL Draft, free agency and other offseason moves, NHL.com is examining where each team stands in preparation for the 2020-21 regular season, which is targeted to start Jan. 1. Today, the New York Islanders:
The New York Islanders have little flexibility to alter their roster this offseason due to the NHL salary cap, which remained $81.5 million, so little they had to trade a top-four defenseman for draft picks after reaching the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 1993.
Devon Toews was traded to the Colorado Avalanche on Oct. 12 for a second-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft and in the 2022 NHL Draft. Toews, who averaged 20:30 of ice time per game during the postseason, became a restricted free agent after the season.
Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello said he’s confident Toews can be replaced by defenseman Noah Dobson, a first-round pick (No. 12) in the 2018 NHL Draft. He also said re-signing defenseman Andy Greene is “a very strong option.” Greene, who was acquired in a trade from the New Jersey Devils on Feb. 16, is an unrestricted free agent.
“We would have made this move certainly if the ice time that Devon received, we didn’t have the ability to put a player into that, and Noah Dobson will certainly, we feel is ready to take the next step,” Lamoriello said.
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New York will also have a different look in goal after Thomas Greiss signed with the Detroit Red Wings as an unrestricted free agent. He’s expected to be replaced by Ilya Sorokin, one of the better goalies in the Kontinental Hockey League for the past five seasons.
Lamoriello said he’s also considering signing goalie Cory Schneider, who had his contract bought out by New Jersey on Oct. 8. Lamoriello was Devils GM when they acquired Schneider in a trade from the Vancouver Canucks in 2013.
“There’s a good sort of chance of that transpiring,” Lamoriello said. “As you know, I had Cory in New Jersey and I think that he’s trying to resurrect his career, and with our coaching staff, I’ve had several conversations with Cory, so I think that rumor will come to fruition.”
Forwards Matt Martin and Derick Brassard are unrestricted free agents, though there have been reports the Islanders are trying to sign them. Center Mathew Barzal and defenseman Ryan Pulock are restricted free agents; Pulock has a salary arbitration hearing scheduled for Nov. 6.
Here is what the Islanders look like today:
Ilya Sorokin, G: A third-round pick (No. 78) by the Islanders in the 2014 NHL Draft, the 25-year-old on July 14 agreed to terms on a contract with the Islanders through this season. Sorokin was 26-10-3 with a 1.50 goals-against average, a .935 save percentage and nine shutouts in 40 games for CSKA Moscow last season. He was tied for second in wins, third in GAA, tied for fourth in save percentage and first in shutouts among KHL goalies to play at least 20 games. His 16 career shutouts are the most in KHL playoff history.
Thomas Greiss, G: Signed a two-year contract with Detroit on Oct. 10 after five seasons with New York. He was 16-9-4 with a 2.74 GAA and .913 save percentage in 31 games (29 starts) last season, and 2-2 with a 2.02 GAA and .929 save percentage in four Stanley Cup Playoff games (three starts), including a shutout against the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Second Round. … Devon Toews, D: Scored 28 points (six goals, 22 assists) in 68 regular-season games and 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in 22 postseason games last season.
On the cusp
Oliver Wahlstrom, F: A first-round pick (No. 11) in the 2018 NHL Draft, the 20-year-old scored 22 points (10 goals, 12 assists) in 45 games for Bridgeport of the American Hockey League last season. … Sebastian Aho, D: He became the first player in Bridgeport history to be named an AHL all-star in three consecutive seasons. The 24-year-old was tied for second on Bridgeport with 46 points (nine goals, 37 assists) in 67 games last season.
What they still need
Another scorer. It was glaring during the conference final, when the Islanders scored more than two goals once in their six-game loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Forwards Brock Nelson (26 goals) and Anders Lee (20) were their only players who scored at least 20 goals during the regular season.
Sorokin is one of the most intriguing players at the position attainable in fantasy outside the top 100 overall in drafts. Fellow Russian goalie Semyon Varlamov may be New York’s starter for now after a strong postseason, but Sorokin could earn close to a 50-50 workload over the course of the regular season. Sorokin has the highest long-term fantasy ceiling of any goalie during coach Barry Trotz’s tenure with the Islanders. — Pete Jensen
Anders Lee — Mathew Barzal — Jordan Eberle
Anthony Beauvillier — Brock Nelson — Josh Bailey
Michael Dal Colle — Jean-Gabriel Pageau — Oliver Wahlstrom
Leo Komarov — Casey Cizikas — Cal Clutterbuck
Adam Pelech — Ryan Pulock
Nick Leddy — Scott Mayfield
Sebastian Aho — Noah Dobson