By now, NHL clubs have most, in not all, of their affairs in order for the 2022-23 season, and while there are always ways to improve one's team, there are only a few GMs who still have work to do. Thirteen NHL clubs are currently over the league salary cap and have restricted free agents to re-sign, and four clubs are over the maximum number of rostered players (23). With just two months remaining until opening puck drop, the clock is ticking for these remaining GMs to sort out their business.
New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello has the longest list of tasks to accomplish before the start of 2022-23. With just $11M, Lamoriello needs to re-sign newly acquired D Alexander Romanov, budding star D Noah Dobson, F Kieffer Bellows, and somehow fit Nazem Kadri
, as rumors continue to swirl about the two sides having a deal in place. It is going to be a busy latter half of the offseason for the Isles' GM, and it is believed several transactions will be made in short order:
Lamoriello has his own, secretive style of managing that is a lost art in the digital age. The mantra of 'loose lips sink ships' is a big one for the architect of New Jersey's three Stanley Cups has been throughout his whole career. These days, it is atypical for Lamoriello to be transparent about anything, really. In his usual fashion, Lamoriello reportedly has deals for Dobson and Romanov signed, just not filed, according to James Nichols of The Fourth Period. In order to fit Kadri and the reported $7-year, $49 million contract, something's got to give on Long Island. Josh Bailey's name has been floating out there as a possible trade candidate. Semyon Varlamov has also been rumored, but I don't think Lou would split up the dynamic tandem of Russians he has. Ideally for the Islanders, Kyle Palmieri and his $5M cap-hit is the one to go, but Lou will be hard pressed to find a suitable deal there.
The Islanders will, no doubt, be the busiest team in August and September. Lamoriello's plan is slowly unfolding, and his patient approach could just initiate the turnaround he is looking for from his group. Appearing in two consecutive Eastern Conference Finals, the Islanders failed to make the playoffs last season. They fired their head coach, hired his assistant in Lane Lambert, and are going into 2022-23 with a much different approach. Whether or not his plan works, Lamoriello's job might depend on this season's success. If the Islanders fail to make the postseason again, it is hard to envision his return in 2023-24.