As soon as Barry Trotz announced his resignation from the Washington Capitals, the vast majority of speculation pointed to him joining the Metropolitan Division-rival New York Islanders, now under the control of famed executive Lou Lamoriello. Recent events will only add fuel to that fire. Newsday’s Andrew Gross believes that Lamoriello prefers to have a coach named before the beginning of the NHL Draft in Dallas on Friday. While Gross notes that Lamoriello will not rush if time doesn’t permit him to fully consider his choice, it seems likely that Lamoriello knows who he wants and simply wants to finalize terms ahead of a major roster-building event. Yet there have been no reports of any candidates formally interviewing for the Islanders’ head coach vacancy, though several names have been brought up so far. However, who was spotted at an airport in Newark yesterday but Trotz. As expected, it seems Trotz is likely on his way in to New York to meet with Lamoriello and the Islanders and, if all goes well, Lamoriello will make the call prior to the draft.
- Another important note for the pace of the Islanders’ head coach hiring is its impact on the John Tavares situation. With each day closer to the opening of free agency, the Isles lose control over their superstar player. If Lamoriello can land Trotz, one of the top coaches in the game, it could help to finalize an extension with Tavares. However, at this point it seems inevitable that Tavares will at least meet with interested teams. In fact, he and agent Pat Brisson have already whittled down the suitors. While no organizations have been specifically named, TSN’s Darren Dreger reports that if Tavares entertains other offers, he will likely only meet with up to five other teams. This self-limited market could benefit the Islanders, but it could also indicate to each of the five teams that they have a legitimate chance of signing Tavares and could up the ante. Only time will tell as July 1st fast approaches.
- As teams get ready to spend this summer, there is still some question as to what limit they will have. Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly estimated earlier this month that the salary cap ceiling for 2018-19 would rise to somewhere between $78-82MM from its current $75MM. This would present quite a jump, but still leaves teams with a $4MM window of possibility. Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston states that clarification is coming soon. He expects an official announcement in the next day or two, likely prior to the start of the draft on Friday. Johnston estimates a narrower range of possibility, speculating that the cap limit will be somewhere on the lower end to midpoint of the original projection, between $79-80MM.
- Looking further ahead, Don Muret of the Oak View Group relayed information today from recently named CEO and President of the Seattle expansion team Tod Leiweke. Leiweke, the younger brother of Oak View CEO and part owner in the venture Tim Leiweke, has clarified the timeline of the expansion process somewhat over the next year or so. Leiweke stated that both the NHL Board of Governors and the city of Seattle will have their final vote in early September. Assuming the team is moving forward, they will break ground on a new stadium in October. Leiweke expects that construction will be a two-year project, likely meaning that Seattle’s inaugural season will be 2020-21. Regardless, Leiweke and company expect to reveal a name for the future team in the first quarter of 2019. This process is moving a bit slower than it did with the Vegas Golden Knights, but still seems to be full steam ahead.