New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello held media availability today, and though he had no update on the negotiations with restricted free agent Mathew Barzal, did confirm several previous reports. Andy Greene, Matt Martin, and Cory Schneider have all agreed to contracts and will be in Islanders training camp, Lamoriello explained to reporters including Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet. All three veterans were unrestricted free agents.
News of these deals came months ago at the start of free agency, but none of them have officially been announced yet and likely won’t until the situation with Barzal is solved. The Islanders have just under $4MM in cap space, but since the young center is likely going to take much more than that, some salary cap gymnastics will have to be performed. Johnny Boychuk, who was forced to retire due to the eye injuries he sustained last season, is still technically on the books with a $6MM cap hit for this season. That number can be moved to long-term injured reserve at the appropriate time, allowing the Islanders to stay cap compliant.
Still, there is certainly no guarantee of playing time for any of the three veterans. Greene came to the Islanders from the New Jersey Devils at the deadline and ended up playing in 21 of the team’s postseason matches, but with Noah Dobson continuing to push for playing time and some other young defensemen creeping up the depth chart, the 38-year-old may find himself in and out of the lineup. That doesn’t mean he won’t still be a valuable addition to the team, but at this point in Greene’s career he can no longer be that top-4 presence.
Martin, who has played eight of his ten years in the NHL with the Islanders also suited up for every game in the playoffs, but he too could find himself scratched upon occasion this season. The 31-year-old is an effective enough option on the fourth line but normally doesn’t provide much offense at all (though Martin did score five goals in the postseason). The heart-and-soul winger has a place on the team to be sure, but at some point, the Islanders will want to take a look at some of their younger options like Oliver Wahlstrom and Kieffer Bellows.
If Greene and Martin have at least some sense of playing time, it is something of a mystery for Schneider. The 34-year-old goaltender has a long history with Lamoriello which stretches back to the 2013 trade from the Vancouver Canucks, but New York already has Semyon Varlamov and Ilya Sorokin locked into the two NHL spots. Schneider has struggled the last few seasons and likely is there only as the taxi squad goaltender, moving into the lineup only in an emergency.
Still, his position in the organization is an interesting one, if only because the Islanders have very little in net behind their top two. Jakub Skarek is currently the only other goaltender under contract, and the 21-year-old has barely any experience at the minor league level, let alone the NHL. Varlamov is also the only goalie eligible to be exposed in the expansion draft, meaning Schneider or some other veteran will have to be signed through 2021-22 if the Islanders want to protect their current starter.
I thought Cory Schneider retired.
I think Varlomov has a No Trade Clause. If that is the case he has to be protected unless he agrees to be exposed.
Joe Carters walkoff
No trade clauses do NOT need to be protected. Only no movement clauses do
Schneider is the starter for the taxi squad. Hope he puts up better numbers there