BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — All 32 NHL teams must submit their initial 23-player regular-season roster by Monday at 5 p.m. Expect Lou Lamoriello to continue working the phones right up until the last minute.
The Islanders president and general manager is undoubtedly looking to maximize assets who could potentially be lost through waivers while also potentially looking to improve the team’s depth in advance of Thursday’s season-opener at Carolina.
"He’s working the phones, checking with teams, trying to figure out what they might need versus what we might need," coach Barry Trotz said Saturday as the Islanders faced the Rangers at Webster Bank Arena in their preseason finale. "He’s not finished assembling the roster. He’s still trying to do some things. We’ll have to make some decisions by [Sunday]. Some guys might have to go on waivers."
For instance, if Lamoriello is considering placing Kieffer Bellows on waivers in order to re-assign the former first-rounder to the Islanders’ AHL affiliate in Bridgeport, he might rather trade Bellows instead of risk losing him to a waiver claim. The same could be true of defense prospect Sebastian Aho.
Or, Lamoriello might be seeing whether there’s a trade market for veterans such as Leo Komarov, who carries a salary-cap charge of $3 million with one season remaining on his deal, or defenseman Thomas Hickey, who has a cap charge of $2.5 million in the final season of his deal.
Lamoriello also must decide whether to offer a contract to journeyman defenseman Erik Gustafsson, who attended training camp on a professional tryout offer. Gustafsson had two, two-assist efforts in three preseason games and could fill the role as the team’s seventh defenseman.
The salary cap ceiling is $81.5 million but the Islanders will be able to exceed that by $6 million when Johnny Boychuk is placed on long-term injured reserve.