Lamoriello playing games (again), shocked penguins

For the second summer in a row, it appears New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello has a contract tucked away in his top drawer, hidden from his competitors so he can maneuver his salary-cap situation and the NHL trade market at a fraction of the cost. most favorable place. Nazem Kadri is this summer’s dirty secret for the Islanders, who hope to get much better and challenge the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Metro Division.

The cavalcade of reports and rumours, including those heard by the National Hockey Now family, confirm (or create) Kadri-to-the-Islanders’ suspicions, though no one will confirm.

It sucked last summer. He sucks this summer like a dead fish hiding under the driver’s seat for weeks in the August heat (that’s a real joke the Johnstown boys played on the GM back when the Chiefs existed).

He is operating outside of the spirit of the process (again) has clogged (again) the NHL free agent market and the NHL trade market. The fact that various reporters at various levels got the story should also tell us that there is a lot of smoke from that fire and that not everyone is satisfied with the latest revelations.

In succession, our national columnist and Boston scribe, Jimmy Murphy, texted to say what he heard but still wasn’t comfortable reporting. Then Adrian Dater, who covers the colorado avalanche, heard similar and was chasing the story. Elliotte Friedman hit the market last week with the rumours, and yesterday our New York Islanders Beat writer Stefen Rosner posted the source of what was going on… as soon as Lamoriello resolved his cap problems.

Last summer, Kyle Palmieri was one of the contracts kept in Lamoriello’s top drawer until he could introduce him without putting himself in a bad spot.

Palmieri hasn’t had a hot streak on Long Island and could be duly punished as one of the goats of a wildly disappointing 2021-22 season (COVID, terrible schedule and a few others too), in which the Islanders missed the playoffs. and he summarily fired head coach Barry Trotz. Pageau was another.

This summer, some sources let the cat out of the bag. Or he blew the whistle. It’s going to be Kadri, although the rival GMs may not be as willing to help Lamoriello. As we noted last week, 12 teams are currently on the NHL salary capand another 10 have been pressed tightly against the lid.

That means 10 teams are the belle of the dance and can dance with whomever they choose.

New York has a few RFAs to sign, including up-and-coming defenseman Noah Dobson, newly acquired defenseman Alexander Romanov and Kieffer Bellows. Rosner projects that the islanders only have a few million left before Kadri.

As Rosner pointed out, the Islanders will have to shell out a significant salary for Kadri to succeed. Brock Nelson is a capable second-row center, but would the Islanders pass him up for a 32-year-old Kadri? Palmieri no longer has a lot of market value, and neither does $5 million third-row center Jean-Gabriel Pageau.

Lamoriello is the kid trying to lick the cupcakes, so they’re his for later. Maybe another GM will boldly step forward and grab Kadri before Lamoriello can make the move on him. Or maybe this market is so congested that the islanders won’t be able to make their move without significantly damaging their future.

“I’m glad you called, Lou. Sure, I’ll take Pageau… …and Dobson. Thank you.”

However, if Lamoriello can pull off another salary cap change, the Pittsburgh Penguins will face a reinvigorated Islanders team.

And a much tougher Metro Division, literally and figuratively.

Last season, four Metro teams made the playoffs. The Penguins he finished in the leading pack with the New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes, with the Washington Capitals advancing all the way. New Jersey added Ondrej Palat to an emerging core this summer with Jack Hughes. The Columbus Blue Jackets added Johnny Gaudreau and will start this season with no tragedy looming in the recent past.

At first glance, the Capitals’ playoff hopes appear to be in jeopardy. Tom Wilson and Nick Backstrom will be gone for months. Backstrom may never return or return as a minor player after major hip surgery.

The Boston Bruins are getting old fast. General manager Don Sweeney is trying to lure center David Krejci, 35, back to the NHL, though neither he nor Patrice Bergeron have signed a contract yet.

The Islanders’ stealth attempt could also hamper Penguins GM Ron Hextall’s ability to move salary. The Penguins are over the cap, and depending on the math or process you choose, they could go under it, but only with an awkward 12-forward roster or parting with an NHL defenseman for nothing.

Hextall has a lot of company on the NHL business front, most outdoors and one trying to hide in the shadows.

The Metro Division is never short of drama.

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