Free agency is now less than a month away from opening up and there are quite a few prominent players set to hit the open market while many teams have key restricted free agents to re-sign. The Islanders have been active with some of their key UFAs but GM Lou Lamoriello still has some work to do. Here’s a closer look at their free agent situation.
Key Restricted Free Agents: F Anthony Beauvillier – While he hasn’t become a full-time fixture in the top six just yet, Beauvillier has been a capable secondary scorer for the Islanders, tallying 39 goals over the last two seasons. That type of production is certainly valuable to have so he will be a top priority for Lamoriello once he deals with his UFA class. Because of his role, the 22-year-old is a likely candidate for a bridge deal at this point with an eye on having a big year over the next season or two to land a richer contract with arbitration eligibility down the road.
F Josh Ho-Sang – While fellow RFA Michael Dal Colle has had more of an NHL impact so far, Ho-Sang’s case is the more intriguing of the two. He has made it known that he feels he should have been given more time with the Islanders and even spoke openly about how he could have been dealt in advance of the trade deadline to a place where he could have had more of an opportunity. The team has confirmed he’ll be qualified but beyond that, his future is uncertain. It’s certainly possible that he’s a trade candidate once again over the coming weeks.
Key Unrestricted Free Agents: F Anders Lee – For the second straight season, their captain is slated to hit unrestricted free agency but the odds of him sticking around are certainly relatively strong. Both sides have expressed an interest in getting something done and there have been discussions going back several months now. However, the length of the contract seems to be holding things up with Lee’s side seeking a long-term pact while Lamoriello wants a shorter deal. The soon-to-be 29-year old has scored at least 25 goals in four of the last five seasons including a 40-goal campaign in 2017-18. That has him poised to be one of the top wingers available on the open market and he will wind up with a significant raise on the $3.75MM he had on his previous contract.
G Robin Lehner – What a turnaround season he had. After being non-tendered by the goaltending-starved Sabres, Lehner completely turned things around both on and off the ice, putting together a career season in the process. Now, instead of being viewed as a short-term stopgap, the 27-year-old could be looked as a multi-year fit, both with New York and around the league. He’s also in line for a significant raise on the $1.5MM he made in 2018-19 and after playing on one-year deals the last two seasons, he’ll get some much-coveted security as well.
Projected Cap Space: With a little over $60MM in commitments for next season (per CapFriendly) following the recent re-signings of Brock Nelson and Jordan Eberle, Lamoriello has plenty of cap space at his disposal for this summer. A decent chunk of that will go to Lee and Lehner if they re-sign but even if they do, the Islanders have the cap space to make a big splash on the open market this offseason.
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