The two best defensemen available this season are both out of the market on Monday. The Sharks re-signed double Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson, and the Rangers acquired the impending restricted free agent Jacob Trouba of the Jets.
It remains to be seen how and if these movements have an impact on Islanders.
Islanders president and general manager Lou Lamoriello is thought to be interested in Trouba and it would not have been surprising if he had considered touching Karlsson if the double winner of the Norris Trophy had been placed in competition. freedom on July 1st.
At the same time, the depth of defense has become one of the Islanders' strengths and Lamoriello could even look for a defender among the top six forwards of the season.
Karlsson has accepted an eight-year extension worth $ 92 million. Connor McDavid of the Oilers ($ 12.5 million) and Auston Matthews of the Maple Leafs ($ 11.6 million) have contracts with higher average annual values.
The Rangers acquired Trouba for defenseman Neal Pionk and 20th overall pick of the NHL Entry Draft this weekend in Vancouver.
Karlsson's new signing leaves a trio of Blue Jackets – left wing Artemi Panarin, center Matt Duchene and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky – to rank as potential unrestricted free players. The open and unrestricted free agents window to begin discussions with other teams begins Sunday.
Islanders should have about $ 22 million in salary space.
The Islanders have already signed a $ 36 million contract again with the Brock Nelson Center for six years and a $ 27.5 million contract with Jordan Eberle right wing. But captain Anders Lee, Vezina's finalist goalkeeper Robin Lehner and center Valtteri Filppula are all imminent UFAs.
Lamoriello should not hesitate to improve his alignment, even with the depth of defense of the Islanders. The emergence of Devon Toews as a rookie last season could allow Lamoriello to hang out Nick Leddy – both share many skating and playmaking skills – and Noah Dobson, 12th overall last year, is at the top of the ranking.
The Tyler Myers of the Flames and Jake Gardiner of the Maple Leafs may well be the best defenders now available in UFA with re-signed Karlsson, but Anton Stralman of the Lightning could also be a useful addition.
The Kings bought defenseman Dion Phaneuf from the $ 49-million, seven-year deal he signed to captain the Maple Leafs in 2014. But Lamoriello, as chief executive of Toronto, traded Phaneuf and his big deal with the Senators and the 34 years old. production has fallen sharply in the last three seasons.
The Flames may be looking to move TJ Brodie, who has another season to sign for a $ 23.25 million five-year deal, and / or Travis Hamonic, entering the final season of a $ 27 million deal dollars he signed with the Islanders in 2013.