This past season saw the New York Islanders win their way to the second round of the post-season for the first time in 22 years, and new owner Jon Ledecky said there will not be any financial restraints in the way of the once-dynastic Islanders snapping their 32-year Stanley Cup drought.
Ledecky, who joined up with Scott Malkin to take over the majority ownership of the Islanders from Charles Wang, told the New York Daily News’ Peter Botte that the plan for the Brooklyn-based club is to spend wherever necessary to bring the glory days back to the Islanders.
Already, some signs of Ledecky and Malkin’s commitment to spending money to ice a winner has been seen, as New York went out and signed Andrew Ladd to a seven-year, $38.5-million deal. The Islanders also spent to add Jason Chimera and P-A Parenteau through free agency.
“There are no financial constraints on (GM Garth Snow) and the team,” Ledecky told Botte. “So if we need to be cap-max to compete for a Stanley Cup, we will be cap-max…We want the New York Islanders to be a destination in free agency and we want the Stanley Cup to be lifted by our captain, John Tavares, whether it’s this year, next year or five years from now.”
While freely spending money can sometimes turn into a disaster if bad contracts are handed out left and right, that Ledecky and Malkin are willing to pump money into the on-ice product should be music to Islanders’ fans ears. There were some lean years in New York, to be sure, but the financial commitment — and the willingness to spend to the cap-ceiling, be that this year’s $73 million figure or more — is promising. And it’s even more promising considering the Islanders are close to having to shell out some serious coin.
Tavares, 25, is heading into the fifth season of a six-year, $33-million contract that will see him become an unrestricted free agent following the 2017-18 season. However, there’s been no signs Tavares is unhappy in New York, and there’s no reason to believe the Islanders will be letting Tavares slip out of their grasp. Snow has already stated he's planning on talking to Tavares about a new deal as soon as possible next summer. The only question, then, is how much Tavares is worth come free agency.
Safe bet says Tavares lands a deal somewhere between Steven Stamkos’ $8.5-million cap hit and Anze Kopitar’s deal that pays him $10-million per season. Unlike Stamkos and Kopitar, Tavares is already a two-time Hart Trophy finalist as league MVP, which means chances are he inches closer to a deal that pays him $10-million per season.
Of course, it’ll be important for the Islanders to add around Tavares, too. Snow has already done a good job of putting some pieces in place, including deals that bolstered the blueline such as the trades for Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk. There’s also a few promising prospects in the pipeline, such as forwards Mathew Barzal, Michael Dal Colle and defenseman Ryan Pulock, that should help keep the Islanders competitive.
And if Snow doesn’t have any restrictions — and it doesn’t appear he will — he should be able to continue to add, build and potentially inch the Islanders closer to the franchise’s fifth championship.
“I’d like to see our progress continue,” Ledecky told Botte. “I think the team has the ability to do that. There should be standards by which teams are measured, and that should be winning the Stanley Cup.”
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