Day one of NHL Free Agency yesterday ended without a sound from the Islanders.
While every other club was announcing deals left and right, the Isles remained radio silent on all fronts. There were reports hours before the opening bell rang at noon that the team had signed free agent forward Zach Parise and re-signed forward Kyle Palmieri. Those deals weren’t filed with the league nor were there any announcements made. They could be made today.
Beyond those, nothing. Nada.
All day long, nothing leaked about who the Islanders might be targeting either. Even the insiders were stumped about what g.m. Lou Lamoriello and Co. were up to. The best probably came from NHL.com’s Dan Rosen who tweeted, “Does anybody know what Lou Lamoriello is doing? Does anybody ever know? The Islanders have been very Lou-like quiet today. Doesn’t mean they’re not doing anything. Linked with Parise, Palmieri, Cizikas. We’ll see.”
To say Islanders fans were frustrated with this would be an understatement. This summer has already seen the departures of Nick Leddy, Jordan Eberle and Andrew Ladd. The difference was, two of the three transactions — which came fast and furious — was surprising to be frank.
Now, no news coming out yesterday could be received as either a positive or negative depending on your preference. But this method of silence shouldn’t be seen as something entirely new based on how Lamoriello has operated since taking things over. Under his watch, the Islanders have always kept all their handlings under wraps for the sole purpose of not giving any indication to other clubs what they might be doing.
It’s what’s become to be known as “Lou’s cone of silence”. Nobody says or leaks anything to anybody. Lamoriello has used this model everywhere he’s been in his career. This is particularly seen most during free agency.
Going through each of the past summers, the Islanders have always been late to the party when announcing their key acquisitions. In 2018 the team didn’t make the signings of Leo Komarov and Valterri Filppula official till at night on the day free agency started. There had been nothing of note from anybody that day regarding who the Isles were looking at. It did come out around the time those two deals were completed the Isles were talking with the Sabres to possibly acquire center Ryan O’Reilly, which ultimately never fell through. They also didn’t announce goalie Robin Lehner’s deal till the second day with the market open for business.
A year later, the re-signing of captain Anders Lee and deal struck with free agent goalie Semyon Varlamov also came several hours after most of the teams in the league made signings.
Lamoriello has always acknowledged that if you have time, you use it. And it’s clear that he uses every single second he has based on what’s stated in the graf above.
As frustrating as that method may seem, it’s usually benefitted the Islanders for the most part.
The value they’ve gotten out of the names listed above by waiting things out has led to tremendous success both in the regular season and the postseason. So obviously Lamoriello’s got a plan and lets things be as they may until he decides to execute it.
There’s still plenty of work to be done by the Lou and his cohorts — re-signing Casey Cizikas, getting new deals done for Adam Pelech, Anthony Beauvillier and Ilya Sorokin — but all of it not coming the first day of free agency shouldn’t have people worrying. For a good amount of time, they’ve been about easing their way into that crucial phase of the offseason. It’s why things were so quiet yesterday and it’s something that should be thought of as normal now when it comes to the organization.
Go back a few years prior and ask anybody associated with or outside the Islanders whether Adam Pelech be considered an option to represent Team Canada in any Olympic scenario, and that person might look at you like you had three heads.
Now? They might praise you for such forward thinking.
During TSN’s Free Agent Frenzy yesterday, some of those on the panel took a minute to give their projected lineups for both Canada and the USA if the NHL does have its players participate in next year’s Winter Games in China. Analyst Mike Johnson put out his lineup with Pelech actually being one of the two Islanders on Canada along with Mathew Barzal.
Pelech over the past few seasons has been recognized as one of the league’s best defensive d-man. It’s a long shot he gets the nod to go play for his country, but the fact he’s even mentioned as a possibility shows how far he’s come in such a short period of time.