The post-Tavares era has been a pleasant surprise early on for the New York Islanders, and the chance to both sustain that success and take a step forward may come this summer.
Elliotte Friedman had a Friday morning radio hit on Calgary’s Sportsnet 960, and the Metropolitan Division-leading team was mentioned.
“How aggressive do the Islanders get at the deadline, or do they fall back and rely on the chemistry that they clearly have.”
“Are you asking me to read the mind of Lou Lamoriello?” asked Friedman wryly in response. “Obviously he’s never going to tell us what he thinks.
“I just remember sitting in his office once before the Eastern Conference Final in 2012 when they played the Rangers. They beat them, and they would go on to the Final against the Kings, where they lost. I asked him about acquiring Marek Zidlicky. He said, ‘I wouldn’t have done that if I didn’t think we could win.’ So it all comes down in his head do they believe that they can win.
“The thing about the Islanders is we have all believed that that is one of the teams that Bobrovsky would like to play for. And I think that that is one of the teams that Panarin could have interest in playing for. So there’s that. The Islanders could be looking at this as not necessarily a rental, but if they got one of those two guys, a guy that they could keep for awhile.
“The Bobrovsky thing is really interesting because the way Lehner and Greiss have played there, I don’t know if the Islanders feel they would need him, which kind of shifts the dynamic a little bit I think. I think before the season a lot of us predicted - and I know I did, I predicted that Bobrovsky would have been an Islander, I could see a path to the Islanders. I’m not so sure about that anymore. I don’t know how they would feel and if they would need that.
“I just think that the one thing that the Islanders have is that some of these guys might see New York as a place where they want to play with term. The Rangers are there too, depending on what they want to do with a guy like Panarin. I think they’d be in that as well. And that might influence their thinking.
“But it all comes down to does Lamoriello think the team can win. And I don’t profess to guess what he thinks because he’s not going to tell us.”
Panarin is in the second season of a two-year, $12 million contract, and can become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Bobrovsky is wrapping up a four-year, $29.7 million contract, which contains a no-move clause, and can become a UFA this summer.
Lehner is on a one-year, $1.5 million contract, and can become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Greiss is in the middle of a three-year, $10 million contract.
Earlier in the week, Darren Dreger connected the Islanders and Panarin as well.
“So I’m looking at the Islanders - I think Panarin would love to play with Mat Barzal,” remarked the Insider.
Dreger feels Panarin, as a UFA, will be landing a Tavares-like contract of seven years at $11 million per season.
Contract-related info via CapFriendly