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Islanders have substantial core group under contract

Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello enters the arena

Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello enters the arena before a hockey scrimmage at training camp at Northwell Health Ice Center on Friday. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

These are the Islanders. And not just for now.

With Mathew Barzal agreeing to a three-year, $21 million deal on Saturday, Islanders president and general manager Lou Lamoriello has a significant portion of his core group under contract. Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, Josh Bailey, Jordan Eberle, Matt Martin, Jean-Gabriel Pageau and goalie Semyon Varlamov are signed to long-term deals.

Anthony Beauvillier, defenseman Adam Pelech and goalie Ilya Sorokin will be prioritized restricted free agents next offseason. Invaluable fourth-line center Casey Cizikas will be an unrestricted free agent and defenseman Ryan Pulock will need a new deal in 2022.

Whether Lamoriello can make that all work under a salary cap kept flat at $81.5 million because of the financial ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic remains to be seen. This offseason he was forced to trade top-four defenseman Devon Toews to the Avalanche because of the cap crunch.

Plus the Islanders will lose a player in the expansion draft to the Seattle Kraken, who are entering the NHL in 2021-22.

But with most of the Islanders staying together for the long term, Lee said the group is excited.

"I think we have an opportunity here to do something that we all want to do and that we’ve been working together for a very long time together," he said. "We’ve come up and been through a lot and I don’t think anyone is going to be satisfied with not doing what we set out to do. That’s what this is all about, really, to be able to deal with the guys that you’ve been in the trenches with for a really long time.

That’s what makes this journey one you really want to finish off."

Last season, the Islanders advanced to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 1993, losing to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Lightning in six games. The Islanders have not been to the Cup Final since 1984 after winning four straight Cups from 1980-83.

Notes & quotes: Unsigned unrestricted free agent Tom Kuhnhackl, former first-rounder Simon Holmstrom (quarantining) and Dmytro Timashov (undisclosed) remained absent from camp. Coach Barry Trotz said he had no updates on a timetable for Holmstrom or Timashov to practice. "Hopefully you’ll see them very shortly here," he said . . . Undrafted free-agent goalie Francis Marotte announced via his Instagram account that he will be joining the Islanders’ organization. Marotte, 25, went 23-8-3 with a 1.78 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage as a senior at Clarkson after spending his first three collegiate seasons at Robert Morris. He was named the ECAC goalie of the year.

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