As the annual National Hockey League entry draft approaches in just two short days, there are storylines galore and rumors swirling around like a swath of mosquitoes over a lush rainforest.
Ryan Kesler is getting traded where? What does P.K Subban earn in free agency? Are the Blackhawks really considering trading Patrick Sharp? In what city does Ryan Miller land? Paul Stastny? Thomas Vanek? And how can we forget….the FLYERS?
But the most important question to readers of this site is…What do the Islanders do?
Surely, general manager Garth Snow is working the phones to improve his hockey club as they head into the last season of play at Nassau Coliseum in Long Island. Especially knowing that their first round draft choice in the highly touted 2015 draft belongs to the Buffalo Sabres by virtue of the Thomas Vanek trade.
This morning, at 12:01am EST, agents and hockey team executives were allowed a window prior to the official opening of the July 1st free agency season to talk the parameters of a contract, get to know each other better and see if a fit can be made. This is supposed to eliminate the craziness of the opening day and remove doubt about both a player and team’s willingness to engage in a long-term commitment.
But as the saying goes, ‘it takes two to dance’. Nobody in their right mind can tell you the conversations that are being had, whether the Islanders have players outside of the obvious ‘untouchables’ that teams are interested in, or what the package coming back to Snow even is. To say you have any knowledge of that is just naïve and outright wrong.
To also proclaim that Snow is not trying everything he can to improve this team is wrong just the same. We have seen and heard how tight the trade market is and after Ryan Callahan received 5.75 million over 6 years to re-sign in Tampa and Nikita Nitkanen, a 6th and sometimes 7th defensemen, getting a 4.5 million deal over 2 years in Edmonton (making him higher paid than their captain by the way), everyone can see where this might be heading.
New York did improve by signing Jaroslav Halak to a very friendly team deal over 4 years to man the crease but need more help. A top line wing is still needed for the John Tavares-Kyle Okposo tandem and possibly an experienced, veteran blueliner who can show all these young kids the ropes.
There are also 4 restricted free agents of his own for Snow to sign and they currently are waiting in the wings, with no reported offers being made. That tells me that Snow is indeed working on bigger things but just how long can this quartet wait? Glad you asked…..
The deadline for teams to send their RFAs qualifying offers is the day following the NHL draft (June 29). On that same date, RFAs can begin contract talks with rival teams. A qualifying offer is needed to retain negotiating rights to that player if they are given an offer sheet from a rival club. If a team does not send a qualifying offer to their RFA they become an unrestricted free agent (UFA) on July 1. Stipulations for qualifying offers include: offering at least a one-year contract and offer at least 100% of their previous salary.
- Player does not have to take amount offered in a qualifying offer. After the offer is made they can reject it and remain an RFA, while negotiating for another amount
- A qualifying offer becomes a contract. If you sign it, you get the salary/years offered
- Once free agency begins (July 1), if the player did not sign the qualifying offer with their respective team they are free to sign an offer sheet with any other club
- Once a RFA signs an offer sheet they are no longer eligible to receive offer sheets from other clubs
- If an offer sheet from a rival club is signed by an RFA, the team that owns their rights has seven days to match the offer
- If a RFA is signed away via offer sheet from a rival club, the team that player was signed away from receives draft picks in compensation
- Offer sheets are a rare occurrence. Since the salary cap was implemented in 2005 only eight NHL players have signed offer sheets. Of those eight players, Dustin Penner was the only player successfully signed away
For the Islanders, the four players with their respective 2013-14 salaries are below. New York now sits about 9 million below the assumed (for now) 54 million cap floor.
Anders Lee $1,750,000
Casey Cizikas $ 900,000
Calvin de Haan $ 1,470,000
Matt Donovan $ 875,000
Strap yourselves in. This ride is about to get bumpy.