Projected cap space: $8.1 million
Roster size: 21
They have $8.1 million in cap space, which doesn’t seem like a bad spot at first glance, but there’s one big contract in particular that makes this a tough situation. On this defence-first team, Mathew Barzal is the game-breaking offensive talent. In some ways, he’s their replacement for John Tavares. Well, now Barzal is an RFA with 207 points in 234 career regular season games, and just shy of a point per game pace in his two playoff appearances.
Barzal alone could take up all of that space, and more, so the Isles could be an offer sheet target for some team that does have salary space. On top of Barzal, the Islanders also need to re-sign RFA defenceman Ryan Pulock, who posted a career-best season, led all Isles defenders in ice time, and was used in all situations.
ST. LOUIS BLUES
Projected cap space: $6.3 million
Roster size: 20
St. Louis already moved out a chunk of change in sending Jake Allen to Montreal and it’s still not enough room to get everything done. Heck, their current available cap space isn’t even enough to re-sign Alex Pietrangelo, who would be the best UFA defenceman available if he hits the market.
Pietrangelo isn’t even the only top four blueliner who needs a new deal. Vince Dunn is an RFA and an exciting young piece of the group, and though he won’t come at too high a price off his ELC, it’s still going to be a notable pay bump.
And then a new backup or 1B to Jordan Binnington must be found, or called up from the farm.