Regardless of the outcome of the current NHL season, every organization will continue to make critical personnel decisions that will affect them not only if this season resumes but well into the future.
In the case of the New York Islanders, the Isles are carrying a number of big-name unrestricted free agents who will be available to either re-sign and stay with the Islanders or move on to another team.
As fans, we tend to look at our favorite teams as exactly that-our favorite teams.
Often times we easily forget that every professional sports franchise is at its core a business and player personnel decisions must be conducted in a business manner.
One of the biggest names in the Islanders organization who is an unrestricted free agent, of course, is Thomas Greiss. As previously reported, Greiss may be on his way out of the Isles entirely after the signing of Semyon Varlamov last season to take on more of the netminding duties. In addition, the much-anticipated signing of CSKA Moscow goalie Ilya Sorokin any time after April 30th means that Thomas Greiss is more than likely the odd man out in the Islanders organization.
Greiss will always be remembered by Isles fans for his heroics in the Stanley Cup playoffs and has become a personally popular fan favorite. However, sports is a business, and Greiss carries an annual salary of over $3.3 million dollars each season and he is free to go find another team as soon as the season is officially over.
Another big name player who recently arrived with the Islanders organization is Andy Greene. Greene, the former captain from the metro area rivals New Jersey Devils, came over prior to the NHL trade deadline in February as the Devils shed a $5 million dollar contract price tag in trading Greene.
As a result, Greene’s contract expires at the end of the season and Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello has to make a tough decision on offering Greene a new contract or letting him go at the end of the season, therefore saving $5 million dollars annually in cap space.
Matt Martin // Derick Brassard
Other Islanders are also unrestricted free agents at the end of this regular season. Regardless of whether this season does continue or not, players such as Matt Martin and Derick Brassard are at the end of their contracts and can elect to move on to other teams. Martin carries a $2.5 million dollar annual contract and Brassard also carries a contract worth $1.2 million dollars annually.
Martin and Brassard are 31 and 33-year old respectively and as veteran players, they may be able to move on to another team and still have productive years ahead in their careers. On the other hand, the Islanders may make a play to keep these two veteran players on the roster for years to come.
For Greiss and Greene, the question Lou Lamoriello and the Islanders organization have to answer is whether these two older veterans (Greiss is 34 and Greene is 37) have a role still to play with the Isles. Both players may find that their roles within the Islanders are no longer clearly defined and that may signal that it’s time for these players to move on in their careers.
For Andy Greene, Father Time may be calling out his name and it’s time for him to consider retirement or one more season with another NHL team unless the Islanders need his presence as a locker room and on-ice leader. Greiss, on the other hand, may still find another NHL home somewhere as a backup goalie.
In both cases, the Islanders have to make a choice on whether these two veterans are worth a large price tag or it’s time to save salary cap space for the next season.
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