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The New York Islanders didn’t make any additions in free agency, but they did sign extensions for four players.
Most importantly, they locked up goaltender Iya Sorokin to an eight-year contract, which carries an $8.25M cap hit. Sorokin wouldn’t have become a UFA until 2024, but it was arguably the most important deal for the Islanders to sign. A Vezina Trophy finalist, Sorokin posted an excellent .924 save percentage in 62 games with the Islanders this year. I’ll have a contract analysis out on HockeyComparables.com later this week, but it’s a reasonable deal.
As for 2023 UFAs, the team also retained defenseman Scott Mayfield, who was the Islanders’ most notable free agent. The defender’s contract is for seven years and carries a $3.5 million cap hit.
Mayfield is coming off a season in which he was averaging over 21 minutes per game and played a key role on the team’s blue line. That said, while the cap hit is fair, this is a very long contract and one that will almost surely cause the team issues later on, especially given he’ll already be 31 years old in October. I had projected a contract for Mayfield at HockeyComparables.com, which can be viewed below.
- ARTICLE: Projecting Scott Mayfield’s next contract
Like Mayfield, Pierre Engvall also received a seven-year deal, at a slightly lower $3M cap hit. Engvall was acquired by the Islanders from the Toronto Maple Leafs at the trade deadline and posted five goals and nine points in 18 regular season games with New York following the deal. I had projected Engvall coming in around the $3M mark, but certainly not on a seven-year deal.
I do think there’s less reason to be skeptical about this deal, and in fact, it could provide really good value. Engvall is still just 27 years old and made for a solid middle-six addition for the Islanders. It’s long, but the team could benefit from it.
Lastly, the team also signed Semyon Varlamov to a four-year contract extension, carrying a $2.75M cap hit. Varlamov is now 35 years old and while he is a perfect backup goalie, he played just 23 games last season. I had projected $2.75M for a cap hit, but not on a four-year deal:
- ARTICLE: Projecting Semyon Varlamov's next contract
To sum up the extensions: the Islanders retained a lot of key players, which is the most important thing. Specifically with Sorokin's deal, it’s great news they were able to extend him a year out, and that deal looks fine. Meanwhile, Engvall’s contract could really benefit the team if it works out, but obviously, there’s risk.
How Mayfield and Varlamov got the term they did though is beyond me. Both deals could hurt the team and there were no comparables to suggest they should get that length of a deal. It’s not even like it resulted in a reduced cap hit – comparables pointed to these exact prices, but at shorter lengths.
You also have to wonder if there’s anything else planned. As of now, all the Islanders have done is keep a roster intact that clearly wasn’t good enough to contend. They have been reported to be in on Alex DeBrincat, but over the last few years, they’ve reportedly been in on a lot of forwards that they never acquired. So we’ll see where the team goes from here.
In smaller news, Parker Wotherspoon did also leave the organization, signing with the Boston Bruins.
All UFA contract projections are available at HockeyComparables.com
OTHER ARTICLES FROM JUNE
Which of the Islanders’ UFAs will return next season?
Islanders re-sign Samuel Bolduc
Islanders trade Josh Bailey to Blackhawks, select five players in NHL Draft