The silence is conspicuous. Free agency began three weeks ago, and while most of the NHL retires to the beach for August, Nazeem Kadri — one of the marquee names of the summer — remains unsigned.
This, in and of itself, goes awry when there’s a team whose general manager doesn’t want to go public when signing a player. More reports – namely from SportNet’s Elliotte Friedman His “32 Ideas” podcast The islanders are in the mix – they poured gasoline on the flames.
The islanders have been eerily quiet ever since. Business for Alexander Romanov The first night of the draft. They may need to clear other trades before they can fit Kadri under the salary cap. In that respect, at least, the dots connect.
In the case of hard hockey, however, it is more complicated. Kadri, who plays on the edge, scored a career-best 87 points with the Avalanche last season. He will turn 32 in October, but is looking for a long-term deal and will play the position the Islanders are most structured for.
The cap of the islands is in dire straits. With extensions for Noah Dobson, Romanov and Kiefer Bellows likely to come, signing Kadri without dealing at least one asset is unlikely, depending on exactly how the numbers pan out.
If such a situation were to happen, Jean-Gabriel Pageau would make sense as a trade chip on paper, because a deal with him would clear $5 million and solve the logjam in the middle. Mathieu Barzal, Brock Nelson and Kadri will be a formidable team’s top three centers. But such things are never easy.
Lamoriello traded three picks, including a first-round pick, for Pejaw just two seasons ago. Pejau kills penalties and plays a two-way game that the Islanders love to see from their forwards. Kadri will be an upgrade. But if the rest of the league knows that Lamoriello is in the business of clearing a spot, Vegas may ask to deal a man on the dime, as it did when Max Pacioretty hit Carolina with $7 million and was forced to include Dylan Coghlan. Only with future consideration will be sent back.
The next two players to be traded logically would be Josh Bailey and Anthony Beauvilliers. Both come with their own risks. Bailey is seven games shy of his 1,000th hit as an Islander, and it’s hard to know if that will factor into any consensus calculations. Beauvillier is seven years younger than Cadre, and trading him would sacrifice youth. Dealing with only Beauvillier or Bailey would presumably contain the risks associated with Pacioret, and a roster that would add Cadre with a reduced wing would mean Barzal, Nelson or Cadre would have to play the wing.
Barzal is one of the most talented centers in the league, and the Islanders should keep him happy in advance of restricted free agency next summer. Nelson scored a career-high 37 goals in midfield. It feels silly to sign him just to integrate the squad into the wing. Maybe Lamoriello will find a receiver for Casey Cizikas, who has five years left at an average annual value of $2.5 million, but it would be shocking to see Cal Clutterbuck break the line after extending him at the trade deadline.
Other things that have touched Deslanders fans this summer — Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk — fit right in, but Cadre will require some ingenuity from Lamoriello if he has little room for error. Any deal longer than four or five years has the potential to unravel against the Islanders, one of the oldest teams in the league. Tickets for the new $1.1 billion arena, which sold for peanuts last summer, were sold on the secondary market. You can’t make the playoffs again.
The focus is very much on 2022-23 – not 2025-26 – and that has dangerous potential for a team that managed to break 90 points last season.
Kadri previously played for Lamoriello in Toronto.
If Lamoriello actually has a contract with Kadri signed in the drawer, that’s his whole calculation.
Of course, the matter will only become clear in time.
The Rangers signed forward C.J. Smith to a one-year deal worth $750,000 on CapFriendly. Smith had 58 points last season with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves.