Lou Lamoriello must have put jet fuel in his coffee this morning.
The New York Islanders kicked their day off with a bang on Wednesday, announcing multi-year extensions with each of Kyle Palmieri, Ilya Sorokin, Casey Cizikas, and Anthony Beauvilier before lunch could be served in a move that solidifies the team's roster ahead of next season.
Palmieri's extension is of the four-year variety, carrying an average annual value of $5 million that will, barring any unforeseen circumstances, keep him on Long Island through the 2024-25 season.
The 30-year-old had somewhat of a rocky start to his Islanders tenure last season, mustering just four points in the 17 regular-season games he played after coming over via a trade deadline deal with the New Jersey Devils. The playoffs, however, were a different story. Palmieri played a significant role in the Islanders' second straight run to the Stanley Cup semi-final, chipping in 9 points in 19 games while giving New York an interior power play threat that the team had been lacking in years past.
Of course, age is a factor here. Palmieri is no spring chicken. But $5 million for a perennial 50-point winger with some two-way ability who also happens to be one of the league's better in-tight finishers seems like a worthwhile gamble.
In net, the Islanders seemingly anointed Ilya Sorokin as their goalie of the future by handing him a three-year deal with an average annual cap hit of $4 million.
Again, this deal carries some risk. Sorokin is largely untested as a full-fledged starter in North America, making his NHL debut in 2021 en route to a .918 save percentage in 22 games. And while he may have been a rookie last season, Sorokin is already 26 years old, placing him smack-dab in the middle of what should be his prime. The Islanders, in that case, did well to limit the term on their unproven yet promising starter, managing to get him under contract at a reasonable cap hit for what should be a yearly ascension while walking Sorokin right to free agency just as he prepares to turn 30.
As for Cizikas, the Toronto-native inked a six-year extension that will likely keep him with the only franchise he's ever known through to the end of his career, coming in at an average annual value of $2.5 million.
Cizikas is a wonderful player. He's arguably the best depth center in the entire NHL, in fact, whose skill in the defensive end fits seamlessly with the Islanders' conservative system. But six years is a lot for a player with such minimal offensive impact, and whose playing style hinges on the physicality that can lead to body erosion as time goes on.
It's a gamble, regardless of how well-liked Cizikas is within the organization.
The Islanders currently sit above the cap at the time of publishing and clearly tacked on some extra years to the end of Cizikas' deal in order to keep the yearly paycheck down. Which is a fine strategy, really. If you have a known commodity that buys as willingly into your system as Cizikas does, it's important to explore all avenues to keep them around. But the Islanders don't exactly have a sterling track record when it comes to handing multi-year deals to depth forwards (see: Laad, Andrew). And all it takes is a freak collision and a lost half-step for Cizikas to quickly become a $2.5 million boulder on the Islanders' books until 2027.
Signing Beauvillier for three years at $4.15 million per season, on the other hand, is the complete opposite of risk.
Beauvillier is one of the Islanders' best young players, coming off a 2021 campaign during which he racked up points at the highest rate per-60 minutes of his career.
The 24-year-old already has a 20-goal season under his belt and is only bound to get better, with Beauvillier having recently come into his own as a defensive weapon under coach Barry Trotz while not sacrificing much in terms of production, either. Squeezing him in for a smidge over $4 million per year until 2024 is some tidy business from the reigning GM of the Year.
All in all, Islanders fans should be thrilled with today's signing. While they don't come without risk, for a team sitting firmly in win-now mode, this is pretty close to a best-case scenario.