Rumors of Lou Lamoriello tendering an offer sheet to Mitch Marner have been circling on #Isles twitter recently.
I’m not saying it won’t, or it can’t happen. I am saying that it will not be a good plan in the very near future.
Mitch Marner is rumored to want somewhere in the neighborhood of $12M per year for his remaining Restricted Free Agent years. Those numbers are insane. Five years and $60M for a player who will probably be at his athletic prime in three years. The whole idea of the previous CBA’s were to structure salary controls for players under 27 years of age. A few GMs broke the seal, and now it’s the norm.
For a player in that price range you must give up 4 of your next five first round draft picks. This is also insane. Even if these picks are all busts they have a value all on their own, pre-draft. A solid pending UFA usually goes for a first, a roster player and prospect at the deadline. You would be out of those conversations for four years.
If one of those years you have goalie or injury or goalie injury issues you could very well give up a top three pick. Think of what your press releases would look like if it happened two of those years. Your team would be right back in the dumpster fire.
Odds are that something like that will not happen. But it could, and the Islander are just getting out of the dumpster, the last thing you need is to get back in before you have time to even shower and shave.
Why Not The Islanders In Particular
Here is the Islanders current roster, with projected 2019-20 CAP hits. They can manage adding Marner at $12M. They would need to move a player or two, and manage the IR from day one. Both Ladd and Clutterbuck expect to be back this season so LTIR is not an option at the moment. You might, however, lose some players to waivers should the need present itself.
This is the 2020-21 roster with some conservative estimates for raises to Mat Barzal, Ryan Pulock and Devon Toews. That bottom line does not include $12M for Mitch Marner. So start crossing out players. It certainly could be done through player movement and LTIR. But that’s $17M for players you now HAVE to replace on your roster with very low contracts. Those are contracts you usually benefit from when you have first round draft picks.
Within the 5 years every UFA on the current roster will be graduating to RFA w/arbitration or UFA, or will have signed a deal with term selling a few UFA years. The GM will be limiting his movement in trades, waiver claims and free agency for the full term of the deal.
The Islanders Do Need Help
Last year the Islanders went from the worst defense in the league by goals against, to the best. They allowed 100 less goals in one season. This was not solely because of player acquisition. It was done because Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz ushered in a new culture.
This culture isn’t going to evolve back into the highly aggressive offense of Doug Weight. It’s going to be a very similar, though evolved, five on five structure where the team plays a conservative forecheck, and takes advantage of neutral zone mistakes to generate offense.
Mitch Marner will make the Islanders better. There is no debating that fact. I will say that the Islanders may even make Mitch Marner a better player. But I also contend that Mitch will be less productive at 5v5 hockey.
Why does that matter? Because if I need a can of peas I don’t go to Costco. A can of peas is $1.50. A dozen cans of peas is $18 at the corner market. They might be $10 at costco. But I’ll never use eleven cans of peast. So I’ve saved $8 at the same time I’ve wasted $8.50. *** I obviously don’t do the shopping in my house.
The Islanders have plenty of options, both internally and externally. They have a few prospects that could certainly help their anemic power play. The likes of Oliver Wahlstrom, Kieffer Bellows, Otto Koivula and Josh Ho-Sang will have an opportunity to make the Islanders within the next two years.
They also have a surplus of left handed NHL (Thomas Hickey, Nick Leddy) and AHL (Sebastian Aho, Parker Weatherspoon, Mitch Vande Sompel) to use as trade bait.
There are also UFAs still available, and some other RFAs that could be shaken loose because of the very cap constraints that the Islanders should avoid.
We also have a group of management, coaches and scouts that have the wheel. I’m fully confident that all of the above information has been processed by them. If an offer sheet is tendered, I’ll trust that it was the best move for the organization. I will withhold judgement with cautious optimism.
But there will be the possibility of this article being being retweeted regularly from the dumpster.