Fear of New York Islanders Lou Lamoriello preventing a Mathew Barzal offer sheet

Lou Lamoriello commands respect (Photo: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke)

Almost every year there are rumors that someone will offer sheet a restricted free agent. And almost every year we don’t get one. There’s plenty of reasons why not including cap space, compensation, and fear of being put on fellow NHL GM’s “naughty list”.

Well in the case of New York Islanders Mathew Barzal we may have to add one more.

Lou Lamoriello strikes fear in the hearts of other GMs

In a new mailbag feature by Eric Duhatschek of The Athletic, he was asked why no offer sheet for a player like Mat Barzal. Here was part of his response:

In Mathew Barzal’s case, it’s probably because so many GMs fear the wrath of Lou Lamoriello. Just kidding. Sort of. Seriously, though, which current general manager would risk running afoul of Lamoriello, the Islanders’ steely-eyed Hall of Famer? I’m going to suggest: None. Lamoriello commands both a healthy level of respect — and fear — from his peer group. 

The Athletic

As amusing and maybe tongue-in-cheek as it is, there really is a ring of truth to it. Lou Lamoriello simply put commands respect throughout NHL circles. That goes from league management all the way to the U.S. National Development program.

When it comes to anyone thinking about trying to offer sheet Barzal, well Lou Lamoriello himself issued a warning. “It is our intention to not allow it to get to that point,” he declared. “Should that happen, the answer is yes [he would match].”

RELATED: Islanders close to signing Barzal?

Lou Lamoriello plays by his own set of rules

The 2020 GM of the year took over the Islanders in 2018, lost John Tavares in free agency and still got his team to the Conference Finals. When he was hired he let go of GM Garth Snow and coach Doug Weight citing the need for a “culture change”.

He has “rules”, one of them is not talking to the media or leaking information about the inner workings of the club. Furthermore, he has his own set of rules and other GMs don’t appreciate it very much. Like when he was yet hired by the Islanders but was allowed to meet with Tavares.

“But some people just laugh and they know, we’ve always known there’s a set of rules for Lou Lamoriello, and there’s a set of rules for everybody else,” Elliotte Friedman said. “I asked the league, I said is there a problem here, and I was told no. But I’ll tell you, some of those other teams are just going nuts.”

Now ask yourself, how many of them publicly spoke out against Lamoriello? To my knowledge not a single one.

mathew barzal
Barzal (Getty Images)

So when will Mathew Barzal and the Islanders come to terms?

Let’s start with this, I believe the Islanders will do whatever it takes to keep Barzal on Long Island. They have a brand new arena being built and they need to fill those seats. That would get harder if Barzal got away.

At 23 years-old, Barzal has become the face of the franchise. In his rookie year he opened eyes around the league with 85 points. While he has dipped below that in his last two seasons, he was still close to a point per game player this past year.

So what he is worth? Many around the NHL think he will get something in the neighborhood of $7 to $8 million. Knowing Lou Lamoriello, he is going to try and lock him up for less.

The question I have is what will the term be? If Lamoriello wants to sign him for less, then the term would be no more than four years so that Barzal can be a UFA at 27. Anything over that means Lou is buying free agent years and the deal could even exceed $8 million.

“Whenever we’re ready to sit down and get it done, I’d love for that to happen,” Barzal said of his next contract. “At the same time, I’m not a person that’s just going to rush this thing or get nervous about it or whatever. I’m just going about my day, and it’ll happen when it happens.”

Sportsnet

One thing is for sure, Lamoriello apparently has all the time he needs. All the time in the world to trade whomever he has to in order to retain Barzal.

Let’s face it, no GM has the intestinal fortitude to cross him.

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