The Mitch Marner situation is coming to a head and the New York Islanders are rumored to be considering an offer-sheet.
A recent report from David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period includes the Isles in a possible Mitch Marner grab.
Multiple teams have considered pursuing Marner, including the NY Islanders & Montreal. Hearing Islanders are serious about pursuit, while Canadiens may be focused on Laine. Whether Isles, or another team, move forward with an offer sheet remains to be seen.
— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) July 5, 2019
First, it’s important to look at the risks and rewards of going down the route of an offer sheet. The first, obviously, is losing four first-round draft picks. Though the Islanders would have to inevitably trade assets away to make cap space, replenishing those selections will be difficult.
Having Marner on the books for the estimated $12.5 million would also jeopardize the ability to maintain existing assets. Mathew Barzal will need a significant raise at the conclusion of the 2019-20 season, around the $8.5-$9 million range.
Ryan Pulock will also be in need of a raise from the $2 million salary he’s currently on, likely looking at a $6.5-7 million salary as well.
This isn’t even considering the three pending RFA’s the Islanders extended qualifying offers to in Michael Dal Colle, Anthony Beauvillier and Josh Ho-Sang. The details of these offers are still unknown.
As they stand right now, the Islanders have $8.6 million in cap space. Assuming all players accept their QO’s, that would take at least $5 million off the table, perhaps a bit more.
So, with $3.6 million remaining, the Islanders would have some rearranging to do. It’s been an open secret that both Nick Leddy and Thomas Hickey are on the open market and have been for some time. Moving both players for draft picks would relieve $8 million off their cap, leaving $11.6 million to spend.
Marner is thought to be seeking a short-term deal around the 3-5 year mark to set him up to enter free agency at the prime of his career.
Rearranging would have to be done, but for a player of Marner’s caliber, it’s worth every shift. From when he entered the NHL in 2016-17, Marner has posted, in order, 61, 69 and 94-point seasons with 22 and 26-goal seasons coming back-to-back.
His elite playmaking ability is a huge reason why John Tavares was able to post career-highs as he did. Marner’s talents speak for itself and are only going to improve at 22-years-old, which should make Isles fans feel perfectly comfortable allotting the salary they were prepared to offer Panarin to someone who isn’t even at his best yet.
Of course, assuming the Islanders are able to pull this off cleanly and add Marner without losing any notable assets, the risk of him departing again in a few years is there — all after giving up four first-round assets.
It’s a high-risk, high-reward deal for the Islanders. Something definitely worth exploring for Lou Lamoriello, who is still very adamant about adding more pop to the top-six corps which remains unchanged.
Whether it’s Marner, Patrik Laine, or another RFA forward, it’s a risk worth taking on that can propel the club into a legitimate threat in the Eastern Conference, especially with how their Metropolitan Division rivals improved their clubs over the last couple of weeks.