New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello says it probably will never get that far, but if another team comes calling with an offer sheet for center Mathew Barzal, the Islanders intend to match it.
Lamoriello recently told fans during a recent Q&A that he doesn’t plan to let the contract talks for Mathew Barzal drag on, even as most teams are waiting to see what happens with next season’s NHL salary cap. In the face of real uncertainty due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and a pause on the NHL season, Barzal’s situation is a bit different. Lamioriello knows, there’s really no number that another team could offer that would see Barzal in another uniform.
When asked about the potential of an offer sheet, Lamoriello said, “It is our intention to not allow it to get to that point, but should that happen, the answer is yes.” In reality, he probably doesn’t have a lot to worry about.
This NHL offseason will likely see more teams try to figure out how to manage their cap than add a salary like what Barzal is about to make to it. Many NHL clubs will feel the financial squeeze from this pandemic, and simply can’t afford to add a player of Barzal’s magnitude.
This is good news for Islanders fans and for the GM who probably would have spent whatever it took to keep their star pivot. Now, the team and the player can focus on fair market value for his services and deal with how that affects signing other players that also need contracts.
When it came to fellow restricted free agents Ryan Pulock and Devon Toews re-signed, the GM said, “We have every intention to sign all three.”
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Lamoriello also noted that both defenseman Johnny Boychuk and fourth-liner Casey Cizikas should be ready to play whenever the season resumes.