Arthur Staple takes a look at five questions facing the Islanders this offseason.
Who's in charge?
Islanders owners Scott Malkin and Jon Ledecky have spent much of the season talking to numerous people in and around the NHL in a search for a potential addition to the top of the front-office food chain. If that hire happens, would that person hold the fate of president and general manager Garth Snow and assistant GM/interim coach Doug Weight in his hands? There would need to be a pretty quick turnaround if the owners decide to clean house, given the looming expansion draft, NHL draft, trade possibilities and the John Tavares extension talks looming within a couple of months.
What will Weight do?
Weight has shown a real aptitude for the head-coaching gig, so whether he wants the job full time and whether Malkin and Ledecky and/or Snow want Weight to continue is another consideration. Would Weight surrender his assistant GM title to focus on coaching? Will assistants Greg Cronin, Bob Corkum, Matt Bertani and Mike Dunham all return? More questions that need answers and soon.
Whither the captain?
Tavares can sign an extension when NHL free agency begins July 1. Informal talks will begin before that and even more informal meetings have been ongoing with Snow, the owners and Pat Brisson, Tavares' marquee agent. The owners are also known to be interested in having Brisson fill that front-office spot. But the main focus is getting Tavares signed and sealed to an eight-year deal (if he reaches free agency in July 2018, he can only sign a seven-year deal with a new team) that will almost certainly cost upwards of $10 million per season. If Tavares, who missed the final week with a hamstring injury that may have been exacerbated by the soft Barclays Center ice, decides he wants to wait and see, Snow and his bosses will be faced with a choice: Let their captain play out the final year of his deal and possibly walk for nothing or trade him and try to get some assets back as the Isles start over without No. 91.
What about in goal?
Snow's biggest downfall this season was his mishandling of the goaltenders. Thomas Greiss, Jaroslav Halak and J-F Berube formed an unhappy trio until New Year's, when Halak was unceremoniously waived and sent down to the AHL. Greiss signed a three-year extension and Berube appeared to be the chosen backup. But it was Halak who got the Isles within a few points of the playoffs down the stretch and he has another year left on his deal. Will all the hurt feelings and bizarre moves be solved by next season?
Who will be protected in the expansion draft?
The Islanders will lose a player to the Las Vegas expansion team in June, but not before Snow tries to make a few moves to shore up his team's forward depth and possibly avoid losing a key defenseman to Vegas for free. Andrew Ladd and Johnny Boychuk have lengthy contracts and no-move clauses that could be waived to allow them to be unprotected, but even if both of them waive, a solid player such as Calvin de Haan could end up switching teams.