New York Islanders Jordan Eberle
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

With top prospects like Josh Ho-Sang making noise in Bridgeport, Lou Lamoriello’s running out of time to decide on some pending New York Islanders UFAs.

Matt Di Giacomo

At the beginning of the season, Lou Lamoriello determined Josh Ho-Sang still needed time in Bridgeport. Two goals and 22 points later, Ho-Sang is displaying his growth as a teammate and individual.

In his last five games, Ho-Sang has a goal (an overtime game-winner) and four assists, which brings his total to an AHL-leading 20 assists thus far. The message from Islanders management at the start of the season was clear, as Lamoriello himself said about the rookies in September, “they haven’t played well enough to take a spot away from the veterans.”

It’s now December, and Josh Ho-Sang’s play is forcing thoughts in the back of Lou Lamoriello’s mind that have to be growing stronger with each point:

Is there a spot available for Ho-Sang on the current Islanders roster, or can one be created?

Staying Under Cap

Anders Lee needs a new contract, and the Isles aren’t about to allow their first 40-goal scorer in over a decade and second-consecutive captain walk in free agency.

While there aren’t many rumblings of a Lee extension (yet), the Islanders have made it clear they intend to retain him. Things have been a little slow for Lee of late, but he’s still on pace to net 31 goals and 66 points.

At 28 years old, Lee is likely close to his ceiling as an NHL player. He’s cemented himself as a top-six player since his resurgence in January of 2016 before missing the remainder of what would have been a great comeback season to a fractured femur.

With the resume that Lee has compiled, the figure to be tossed around during contract negotiations would most likely be in the $7 million range, possibly up to $7.5 million. If the Islanders retain him at $7.5 million they’ll have at least $3 million left in cap space.

Considering the recent outburst in Bridgeport and the pending raises for both Mathew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier, Jordan Eberle‘s days are numbered simply as a matter of cap space.

Gauging Value

So, Eberle has to go; that much is clear. But whether it’s now or closer to the trade deadline is up to Lamoriello, and one interesting piece of news will help the Isles determine an approximate value for him.

The Pittsburgh Penguins making it clear they’re testing the waters with two-time Stanley Cup Champion Phil Kessel, and that will help set the frame of reference for what a top-six forward can fetch on the open market.

At the moment, there is no indication that the Islanders are testing the market on any players. How the Kessel scenario plays out over what will likely be the next several weeks may help change that.

With teams crossing the 20-game mark in their seasons, it’s clear what they all need. The Penguins, for instance, find themselves with a top-10 NHL offense, but they also surrender the tenth-most goals per game.

Kessel’s fate will likely trigger a turn of events among NHL front offices, and hopefully the Islanders are among the teams who begin to see more activity as the halfway mark approaches.

Whatever the case, Lamoriello has maintained his position that he sees the Isles as a win-now team.

The moves are on the horizon.

Grew up a diehard Islanders and Mets fan based out of Northern New Jersey. Concluding my Broadcast Communications degree at William Paterson University. WP Sportsdesk member, Stan Fischler correspondent, music buff and total Star Wars freak. Follow my social media handles to learn more. Matt Di Giacomo is a Staff Writer for the Islanders on Elite Sports NY. He encourages team discussion. Tweet him @mdigiacESNY and check out his reviews on YouTube.