(Photo via Zimbio.com)As the playoffs continue for some fans and the offseason begins for others like myself, I always try to look at the Islanders & Bridgeport Sound Tigers as one organization, not just the Islanders team it self. It's been a long time since I've seen this organization this deep in prospects and promising rising stars and it's good to see. Having said that, while the Islanders have taken leaps and bounds in their performance this year, I do not expect the Islanders payroll to increase by the same nature. The Islanders have player personnel questions that need to be answered during this time of year, but depending on the future spending cap budget of the Islanders, some of those questions are possibly already answered.
Every Islanders fan remembers PA Parenteau. He was a first line right wing with John Tavares & Matt Moulson. To be short: he put up a lot of points, especially on the power play in the two seasons he was with the Islanders. By seasons end he was looking for a four million dollar a year contract. The Islanders declined his services making him an unrestricted free agent. Did he deserve it? Colorado seemed to believe so. Soon after declaring to be a free agent, Parenteau signed his four year, sixteen million dollar contract with the Avalanche. Good for him. The Islanders countered with signing Brad Boyes, who ended up putting up close to the same numbers through 48 games as Parenteau's last year for three million less. Brad Boyes & the Islanders went on to the playoffs, whereas Parenteau's Avalanche never had a chance.
Enter Mark Streit, the Islanders offensive defenseman and captain. After putting up excellent numbers again, even in a short season and having produced in the playoffs, Streits' contract demands may make him expendable the way Parenteau was. According to Capgeek.com the Islanders spending cap budget was roughly 55 million dollars in 2012-2013. The current payroll now stands at just over 36 million. That's 19 million to resign players. To make this easy (since I calculated/close guessed the numbers already), It's safe to say that Bailey, Hamonic, Hickey, Poulin and Nabokov will all get decent contracts and should be on the team next year, barring any trades. I also will not be surprised if Brock Nelson gets his shot at the big club next season. When the contracts are all added up, the cap is redone, the Islanders are looking at roughly a 50 million dollar payroll cap, still needing two wingers and a defenseman. The Isles could resign either David Ullstrom or Jesse Joensuu for less than a million, resign Brad Boyes to a decent contract or bring up Nino Niederreiter and then once they find a defenseman, the Isles are close to there 55 million dollar cap budget.
Hence Streit's dilemma. Will the Islanders increase their budget to 60 million? Possibly, but probably not by October. Maybe around the trade deadline when management has a firm idea on where this team is in the standings and what direction it needs to go in. But what about Streit's offensive numbers? Well to be honest, there's no reason why Visnovski can't produce close to the same numbers and the Islanders have unproven players like Hickey who could find the back of the net more over a full NHL season; Have the Islanders seen the talent ceiling of Travis Hamonic? I don't think so. Let's not forget that down in Bridgeport they still have Matt Donovan and (if he can stay healthy) Calvin de Haan itching to crack the Islanders lineup. Also, if the defense were to improve defensively, like we saw towards the end of the season and the goaltending is consistently good for a full season The Islanders may win more 2-1 or 3-2 games. Players like Okposo returning to form or we finally see Niederreitter become the power forward we've been waiting to see, maybe Streit's 7-10 goals a year may not be missed. The final intangible? Is John Tavares ready to be captain of the New York Islanders? I think so.
There's no doubt that I believe Streit has earned a contract worth close to the five million a year. He may get it and good for him. It just may just be that he is no longer part of Garth Snows or the Islanders plan. Then again, he could sign tomorrow.