The Islanders’ eventful expansion and NHL Draft week has turned to a quiet week after. Don’t expect much to change when the opening bell on NHL free agency rings Saturday at noon.
Isles general manager Garth Snow has been keeping a low profile during this week’s prospect camp at Northwell Health Ice Center, not hosting any pending free agents as the Isles did last year when Andrew Ladd came to Long Island before signing in the opening minutes of free agency for seven years and $38.5 million.
It’s not the same free-agent class as it was last July and the upheaval that the Islanders went through -- losing mainstays Frans Nielsen, Kyle Okposo and Matt Martin that first day while adding Ladd and Jason Chimera — won’t happen again this season.
The Islanders have inquired about Justin Williams, the three-time Stanley Cup champion who appears headed out the door from the Capitals after two productive seasons there. The 35-year-old Williams could be had on a short-term deal, which would very much be to the Islanders’ liking, but even at two years he could be seeking between $4-5 million per, which would take him out of the Islanders’ price range.
Snow only has about $9 million in salary-cap space for next season and defensemen Calvin de Haan and Adam Pelech need new contracts, so any free agent seeking big money and long term will be looking elsewhere.
But Snow certainly was busy a week ago. It began with the June 21 expansion draft in which Vegas got the Isles’ first-round pick at last weekend’s amateur draft, a 2019 second-round pick and low-level defense prospect Jake Bischoff in exchange for taking Mikhail Grabovski’s $5-million cap hit off the Isles hands and staying away from any of the prime players Snow left unprotected.
A day later Snow swapped Ryan Strome for Edmonton’s Jordan Eberle, who immediately jumped into the Isles’ top six forwards. And on Saturday, after some shopping around the league, Travis Hamonic was dealt to the Flames for Calgary’s first- and second-round picks next year and a 2019 or 2020 second-rounder.
The Isles still may consider trading for a center, with the Avalanche’s Matt Duchene of interest, but they have 14 forwards with NHL experience under contract and young center Mathew Barzal knocking on the door.
“We feel we have a good hockey team, we have a team that’s built for now and the future,” Snow said last weekend. “We also have the ability to use some of those assets to bring in a player who can help our club in the near term.”
Ho-Sang shines in scrimmage. Josh Ho-Sang was one of the standouts in the Isles’ rookie scrimmage Thursday night, scoring goals in each of his team’s wins in the four-on-four competition. The 50 prospect campers were divided into three teams for the night’s games and Ho-Sang, teamed with Anthony Beauvillier and rookie John Stevens (son of the Kings coach), among others, to go 2-0.