The NHL’s pre-Expansion Draft roster freeze had ended and it appeared as if the New York Islanders had gotten themselves into quite the pickle. After trading Nick Leddy earlier this week, the Isles were left with just two defensemen who fit the exposure requirements for expansion – 27+ games played this year or 54+ games played over the past two years, plus term remaining on their current contract – and one of those two had to be exposed. However, those two defensemen were Ryan Pulock and Scott Mayfield, who alongside RFA Adam Pelech were expected to be protected from expansion. After all, that was the main catalyst of the Leddy trade.
Well, long after the deadline had passed it has now been confirmed that the Islanders did find a solution to their problem, with the timing suggesting this was perhaps a fallback plan in the event they could not add an exposure-eligible defenseman. The Athletic’s Arthur Staple was the first to report that New York has extended veteran defenseman Andy Greene with a one-year, $1MM contract. The deal carries a minimum $750K salary and a $250K signing bonus. Most importantly, Greene is now under contract and has more than enough games to his credit this past season to serve as the Islanders’ expansion exposure prop.
Greene, who will turn 39 early this season, is still a good player and a great locker room presence. However, re-signing the veteran may not have been GM Lou Lamoriello’s plan, even with a relatively inexpensive deal. Greene saw a 12-year low in ice time last season as his offense dried up, his puck movement suffered, and he was less disruptive on defense. Greene is still a smart, capable defenseman, especially in a third pair role, but at his age and ability his ceiling is low. Meanwhile, the Islanders have young defensemen like Noah Dobson, Sebastian Aho, Bode Wilde, Grant Hutton, Samuel Bolduc, Robin Salo, and more who are pushing for NHL opportunity and ice time. The Isles will have to toe the line between not blocking those young players and not upsetting the locker room by benching or demoting Greene, a veteran leader.