The NHL season is on pause because of the COVID-19 pandemic with no timetable for play to resume.
But, looking ahead to next season, Islanders president and general manager Lou Lamoriello expects injured top-pair defenseman Adam Pelech will be ready for training camp, top goalie prospect Ilya Sorokin will finally join the organization and top-line center Mathew Barzal will be re-signed.
Those were among the responses Lamoriello gave in a question-and-answer session with fans conducted via Twitter and posted on the Islanders’ team website.
Lamoriello said defenseman Johnny Boychuk and Casey Cizikas, both who suffered severe lacerations from skate blades, would be ready if the current season resumed and that Pelech, who suffered an Achilles’ tendon injury on Jan. 2, would be ready for training camp.
Sorokin, 24, drafted in the third round in 2014, has starred in the Russian KHL but his contract with CSKA Moscow is expiring. Lamoriello said there have been discussions to bring him to North America.
“We have every indication that he will be here for next season,” Lamoriello said.
Barzal and defensemen Ryan Pulock and Devon Toews are all impending restricted free agents and Lamoriello said the intention is to re-sign all three.
There’s been speculation that Barzal, who does not have arbitration rights as he concludes a three-year, $2.775 million entry-level deal, could attract a lucrative offer sheet from another NHL team.
Lamoriello was asked whether he would match it.
“It is our intention to not allow it to get to that point,” Lamoriello said. “But should that happen, the answer is yes.”
The coronavirus outbreak could certainly affect the construction plans of the Islanders’ new arena at Belmont Park.
But Lamoriello expressed confidence in the current timetable.
“I have all indications that the Belmont Park Arena is on schedule and will be ready for the 2021-22 season.”