With the contract of general manager Lou Lamoriello believed to be expiring at the end of next month, some had wondered if the time was right to make a change in the front office. However, Newsday’s Andrew Gross reports that after some deliberation, that will not be the case as the team has decided to offer the 80-year-old a three-year contract extension.
Lamoriello has been at the helm in New York for the last five seasons with the team making four playoff appearances during that stretch, highlighted by a trip to the Conference Final in the bubble in 2020. However, they’ve failed to win a playoff series the last two years so with his contract expiring, there was a logical jumping point to make a change if they wanted to.
Despite the lack of postseason success the last couple of seasons, that hasn’t stopped Lamoriello from acting like a win-now GM. Last year at the draft, he moved their first-round pick to Montreal to pick up defenseman Alexander Romanov. Then, back in February, he moved their first-rounder for next month’s draft along with Anthony Beauvillier and prospect Aatu Raty to Vancouver for Bo Horvat before signing the center to a long-term extension. Lamoriello also inked Mathew Barzal to an eight-year, $73.2MM extension that will kick in next season.
At the moment, the Islanders are a veteran-laden team that has been tight to the salary cap for the last few years, a trend that’s likely to continue next season as they have barely $6MM in cap room this summer, per CapFriendly. With that money, they need to sign a backup goalie as Semyon Varlamov is a pending UFA while they’d also likely want to bring wingers Zach Parise and Pierre Engvall back, along with blueliner Scott Mayfield. Those three are also set to hit the open market in July and clearly, the cap room they have is nowhere near enough to re-sign them all.
Accordingly, creating cap space will be at the top of Lamoriello’s to-do list this summer. Josh Bailey and his $5MM price tag is someone the team would likely want to move on from but doing so would require incentivizing a team to do so. However, their prospect pool has taken a hit lately while they only have one pick in the top 110 next month which doesn’t exactly give them a surplus of assets with which to use to try to entice someone to give them that cap room.
Based on Gross’ report, it appears that Lamoriello is going to get a vote of confidence from the team, one that will likely extend to first-year head coach Lane Lambert as well. But the veteran manager is going to have a lot to try to accomplish in terms of re-signing his free agents, creating cap room, and doing so while trying to get a little younger and quicker while trying to restock a dwindling prospect pool at the same time. That’s a tall task for any general manager but the Islanders feel that Lamoriello will be up to the challenge.