It may seem like a Twilight Zone episode, but yes the New York Islanders may be running into some salary cap problems in the coming years.
Now before we panic and consider trading Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen or some other part of the Islanders core let's take a look at what the issues are.
Right now the Islanders sit about Six and a half million under the cap. The issues are Kyle Okposo, Matt Martin, Frans Nielsen will be unrestricted free agents, and Casey Cizikas and Ryan Strome are going to be restricted free agents. If Garth Snow were to re-sign all five, not make any trades the Islanders could easily be over the salary cap.
Contracts coming off the board will amount to roughly three point six million in players likely not to re-sign in the off season with Mareck Zidlicky, Brian Strait, Eric Boulton and Steve Bernier. That gives the Islanders general manager about ten million in cap space to work with assuming no one gets traded.
The biggest raise due will be to Islanders right wing Kyle Okposo. Other comparable players are earning in the neighborhood of five to seven million in average annual value (AAV) so lets just cut that in the middle and say Kyle is going to get an 7 year deal worth about 42 million putting his AAV at six million per season. That leaves just 4.5 million in room.
Frans Nielsen in mine and a lot of other peoples opinions is one of the most under rated players in the NHL. That being said, he is not a front line center, but if you think he or his agent does not see the five million dollar salary Mikhail Grabovski is earning and says.. yeah.. That is my number Garth. That eats up the remaining cap space right there.
Strome will be in for a raise, probably in the 2-3 million dollar range, Cizikas and Martin will also be in for raises and I would not be shocked if another team over pays to get Martin and offers 2-4 million per season. Look at the contracts Brendan Prust and Benoit Pouliot got.
Some tough decisions are going to have to be made this off season. Now if Garth Snow can clear some cap space maybe by trading some assets and giving some line up spots to Michael Dal Colle, Josh Ho-Sang, Matthew Barzal or one of the other prospects in the system, then maybe it would be possible to keep all of the free agents the team has. Who would be expendable?
Playing arm chair GM for a minute, as well as doing pretty well in my "Be A GM" mode in NHL 16, the first two names that come to mind are Nikolay Kulemin and Mikhail Grabovski. After this season both players will have two years left on their respective contracts. Now if Garth Snow could find someone to take the two off his hands he would have to be very careful how much of that cap savings he uses because at the end of the 2018 season some guy names John Tavares is going to have to be paid, and paid very well.
In closing, in order to keep Okposo, Nielsen and Martin Snow is going to have to make some sacrifices or let Kyle walk away, which absolutely no one wants to see.