After Lou Lamoriello was conspicuously quiet for most of the summer, he completed most of the New York Islanders‘ offseason work Wednesday by signing four players to multiyear contracts.
Trade-deadline acquisition Kyle Palmieri, a veteran forward who came over from the New Jersey Devils and had a solid postseason after struggling in the regular season, agreed to a $20 million deal across four seasons. Palmieri was part of a package that cost the Islanders a first-round draft choice this summer, so keeping him in New York was a priority.
The other three signings are players who started last season with the Islanders, and their agreements help to reinforce the core that landed in the NHL semifinals last season.
Goaltender Ilya Sorokin landed $12 million over three years, homegrown winger Anthony Beauvillier secured $12.45 million over three years, and fourth-line mainstay Casey Cizikas settled on $15 million over six years.
“It’s exciting what we’re doing right now,” Cizikas said. “We’re gearing up for another big year.”
Palmieri, 30, posted nine points in 19 playoff games, and knew right away he’d like to stay. It didn’t hurt that Lamoriello knew Palmieri well from their time together with New Jersey, when Lamoriello ran the Devils.
“Obviously it was a place I wanted to be, and I think the belief was that that was mutual,” Palmieri said. “I had a good feeling it was going to work itself out.”
The Islanders’ only other signing of the summer was a $46 million, eight-year deal with defenseman Adam Pelech in early August. Lamoriello traded defenseman Nick Leddy to Detroit in a salary dump, forward Jordan Eberle went to Seattle in the expansion draft and yet the rest of the team is still together for another pursuit of the Stanley Cup.
“We have a lot of unfinished business,” said Cizikas, who wants to play his entire career with the Islanders. “The way that the season ended wasn’t ideal, but we know we have more. We know we can go further, and ultimately we want to do this with the same group.”
As positive as the vibes are, until this group lands in the Stanley Cup Finals, the question that remains lies in offensive firepower. New York has stability in net and defensive balance, but is there enough up front to win in the third round and beyond? In Game 7 of the semifinals last season, vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Islanders were shut out, 1-0.
The Islanders have been rumored to be pursuing free agent Zach Parise, another former Devils forward who Lamoriello drafted while with New Jersey, and were said to be in trade talks with the St. Louis Blues for disgruntled star Vladimir Tarasenko. But both players remain available.
Wednesday’s moves put New York over the $81.5 million cap, though the club can go $6 million over by using long-term injury relief for Johnny Boychuk‘s salary, since the longtime defenseman has since declared his playing days over. So, there is potential maneuvering available for additional roster changes, perhaps even into the regular season.
Cizikas and Beauvillier praised Lamoriello, the reigning general manager of the year, for doing his best to bring the core back for another run. There may not be room for Travis Zajac, who came over from the Devils with Palmieri at the deadline, but don’t count anything out with veteran training camp still three weeks from opening.
Sorokin, 26, should have many years ahead on Long Island after putting up a 2.17 goals-against average and .918 save percentage in his rookie season. The Russian netminder will count $4 million against the cap through 2023-24.
Like Sorokin, Beauvillier, 24, was a restricted free agent who wasn’t going anywhere. The 2018 first-round pick has 155 points in 333 NHL regular-season games, all with the Islanders.
“There’s nowhere else I’d rather play,” he said. “I knew it was going to get done.”
Cizikas, 30, has already played 10 seasons with the Islanders and despite being an unrestricted free agent didn’t even consider signing elsewhere.
“There was no doubt,” he said. “Long Island’s my home and it’ll always be my home.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.