Earlier this week, it was noted that the Islanders have some concerns about the term that winger Anders Lee is seeking on his next contract. He’s far from the only notable pending unrestricted free agent that they have but it doesn’t appear they’re rushing to get into discussions with those players just yet either. Speaking with Brett Cyrgalis of the New York Post, center Brock Nelson indicated that he’s yet to have substantial negotiations with the team on a new deal yet, something that doesn’t appear to bother him at this time:
There hasn’t really been any talks or any indication one way or the other. That’s a good thing for all parties, take it day-by-day. Everybody wants to win and we’re in a good spot to do that right now.
The 27-year-old is in the midst of a career season with 20 goals and 23 assists in 65 games so far this season. Accordingly, he is lining himself up nicely for a raise on the $4.25MM he signed for to avoid salary arbitration back in July.
While Nelson could make a case for a long-term deal, Cyrgalis suggests that a long-term deal is something that GM Lou Lamoriello would like to avoid, hinting that teammate Josh Bailey’s six-year term is considerably longer than he’d like to give Nelson. In order to get him to take a shorter deal, the Islanders would likely need to up the AAV of the contract which could push his cap hit closer to the $6MM per season range.
Winger Jordan Eberle is also eligible for free agency this summer and like Nelson, there have yet to be any talks of significance on a new deal. He has 30 points in 61 games this season which won’t help his cause for beating his current $6MM AAV on his next deal.
With less than $48MM tied up in 16 players for next season, the Islanders figure to be big players this offseason. With that in mind, it wouldn’t be surprising if Lamoriello is willing to slow-play things with his existing UFAs in an effort to see if he has a realistic opportunity at going after some of the top players that are eligible to hit the open market including winger Artemi Panarin and defenseman Erik Karlsson. After losing John Tavares last summer, the Islanders figure to be much more active in free agency this time around, even if they come to terms with Nelson or others beforehand.