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COVID-19 Outbreak Can Impact Lou Lamoriello and RFAs

GM Lou Lamoriello said Saturday that he intends to sign all three of his RFAs and bring over Ilya Sorokin. Will COVID-19 let him?

Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello said some interesting things on Saturday in response to fan questions from the previous week.

Some fans asked him about his morning routine and others about his past experiences as a general manager.  But some of his responses provided important details about the future of the Islanders.

One fan asked about the Islanders’ ability to sign RFAs Devon Toews, Ryan Pulock, and Matt Barzal.  Lamoriello concisely responded that the team intends to re-sign all three players.

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at New York Islanders

He added that the team will go as far as to match an offer sheet for Mathew Barzal if he is given one.

Lamoriello also said that he has “every indication” that Russian goaltender Ilya Sorokin will be in New York next season.

The former third round draft pick is considered one of the top goalies not playing in the NHL.  He posted a 26-10-3 record for CSKA Moscow of the KHL this year, and was 4-0 in the playoffs before the KHL season was suspended.

RFA2

Sorokin is not under contract with the Islanders, which means Lamoriello will have to find even the cap space to sign him.  The three RFAs shouldn’t be cheap signings either.

This ambition would seem possible when the NHL announced in early March that the salary cap will rise to $84 million to $88.2 million, but the salary cap may not rise at all.

COVID-19 has left the NHL season and playoffs in limbo.  The season is currently paused, but it remains unknown when the pandemic will subside.  The league may not resume play at all.  If the season is cancelled, it will likely result is a large loss of league revenue; money that goes directly to player salaries.

If this worst case scenario plays out, the salary cap will almost surely not rise as expected. In fact, it may go down.

If the cap rises, the Isles will have about $12.6 million to sign their RFAs and Ilya Sorokin.  That number dips to $10.1 million if it remains at $81.5 million.  Either way, Lamoriello will have to get creative.

Players like Cal Clutterbuck ($3.5 million AAV), Leo Komarov ($3 million AAV), Johnny Boychuk ($6 million AAV), Nick Leddy ($5.5 million AAV) and Thomas Hickey ($2.5 million AAV) are among those that might be traded or bought out this summer.

The team also may not be able to resign UFAs Thomas Greiss, Matt Martin, Andy Greene, and Derick Brassard.

Lou Lamoriello is known to be one of the most secretive general managers in the NHL, so whatever his plan entails in anyone’s guess.

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