The NHL deadline for season-opening 23-man rosters was 5 p.m. EDT today, a deadline that apparently even Lou Lamoriello is required to meet — eventually. Unlike many teams — and in keeping with their pattern all summer — the Isles didn’t make a public announcement about it today, so we refer to the NHL media site and piece things together with the help of CapFriendly.
That said, what we think we have is a list of 23 players that appears to maximize insurance for injured players (Matt Martin and Semyon Varlamov, both officially listed on IR, though Martin was in a transient limbo at the time of this initial posting) and the team’s ability to utilize almost all of the LTIR allowable salary cap overage they’ll get from Johnny Boychuk’s $6 million cap hit.
So here is the initial 23-man roster, which we’ll group by their expected opening night roles, even though things are (again) subject to change before the first game and/or soon after:
Anders Lee – Mathew Barzal – Kyle Palmieri
Anthony Beauvillier – Brock Nelson – Josh Bailey
Zach Parise – J-G Pageau – Oliver Wahlstrom
Ross Johnston – Casey Cizikas – Cal Clutterbuck
Extra: Leo Komarov
Adam Pelech – Ryan Pulock
Zdeno Chara – Noah Dobson
Andy Greene – Scott Mayfield
Extras: Sebastian Aho, Thomas Hickey
Injured: Semyon Varlamov (officially listed on IR by the NHL media site), Matt Martin (also finally listed on IR)
In their latest minimization of concern about Varlamov’s status, today Barry Trotz said the goalie who did not appear at all in preseason is just “resting” and should join the group “fairly soon.” That’s not really comforting at this point, with their season-opening road trip beginning Thursday, but what are you gonna do?
If you’re surprised (I am) to see Skarek listed as Sorokin’s backup instead of Cory Scneider, that may not last long and is probably a paper move, too: If Schneider is getting the NHL minimum of $750,000 (we don’t know yet, his contract not appearing), then Skarek’s NHL hit of $764,167 actually takes up more space — which is the goal if they’re trying to get as close to the cap ceiling as possible, for LTIR purposes.
Expect Schneider to be on waivers tomorrow/Wednesday so his contract can be filed. Once he clears, Skarek goes to Bridgeport. Schneider’s the backup while Varlamov is out.
Goal is to not lose the depth guys the #Isles want and maximize LTIR. This isn’t the playing roster.
— Arthur Staple (@StapeAthletic) October 12, 2021
To arrive at the opening roster, there are many cap and roster logistics like that involved, including the retired Boychuk, who again returns (along with his $6 million cap hit) to LTIR, which will eventually enable the Islanders to exceed the cap ceiling (or, essentially, replace his cap hit) by that much if needed during the season.
Waivers Abound! And More to Come!
Michael Dal Colle was placed on waivers today and will presumably be assigned to AHL Bridgeport once his $750,000 one-way (which just means he makes the same amount whether he’s in the NHL or AHL) deal clears. The Isles had previously passed veterans like Richard Panik (since assigned to Bridgeport) and Thomas Hickey (technically on the opening roster) through waivers. Kieffer Bellows has yet to be placed on waivers (and like Schneider, his contract still hadn’t appeared on the filings) but that will be necessary at some point.
Promising prospects — and seasoned European pros — Robin Salo and Anatolii Golyshev (also on a $750,000 one-way deal) had strong camps but did not require waivers to be assigned to AHL Bridgeport, among the assignments that actually were announced by the team today.
In terms of flexibility, the Isles know Hickey has already cleared waivers and they are likely confident Komarov and his $3 million cap hit would clear waivers if space is needed, too. But for today’s deadline they probably needed Komarov’s ($3M) and Hickey’s cap number ($1.375 million) more than they needed their Veteran Presence.
From Salo to Dal Colle and even these veterans, chances are the Isles will need many of them for NHL service at some point during this season’s compressed and full 82-game schedule. Lou’s secretive contract dance all summer long was presumably in anticipation of how tight things would be today, the eve of another season of day-to-day dancing and maneuvering along the cap’s edge.