During the New York Islanders Tuesday night game against the Seattle Kraken, injured forward Oliver Wahlstrom was seen wearing a brace on his left knee with crutches. The Islanders told us that he was out indefinitely after sustaining an injury on Dec. 27 against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
To jog your memory:
Huge hit by Oliver Wahlstrom, although he might have taken the worst of it pic.twitter.com/3n9ZUuPtqS
— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) December 28, 2022
When NYI Hockey Now tried to get an update in the middle of January, we were told to ask for an update in a few months. That was a signal that Wahlstrom was likley out the remainder of the year, but again, nothing official.
Following the 4-0 win over the Kraken, Islanders head coach Lane Lambert was asked about the status of Wahlstrom, given what we had seen.
“We’re not sure on that,” Lambert said. “We’ll have to just wait and see what happens, but as of now, he’s out.”
Wahlstrom has been on Injured Reserve since Dec. 30, retroactive to the date of the injury.
For an injury of this magnitude, many are wondering why the New York Islanders don’t just place Wahlstrom in long-term IR.
Here’s the answer
Per CapFriendly, by placing Wahlstrom on LTIR, that would allow New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello to spend or exceed the salary cap by an extra $894,167.
While every penny counts in a salary cap world, there’s just no need to do that.
As of now, the Islanders $8.619 million in deadline cap space and anyone they want to acquire, for example, Vladimir Tarasenko and his $7.5 million cap hit, with room to add a depth forward or defenseman, with the remaining $1.19 million.
Realistically, the St. Louis Blues would retain 50 percent if a trade were to happen, as we see often with pending unrestricted free agents, meaning the Islanders would have $1.119 million to spend.
If the injury was to a player like a Mathew Barzal, who makes $7 million, then LTIR makes sense.
Also, keep in mind that by placing a player on LTIR means you can go over your cap by whatever that player is making, and most teams will spend most, if not all, of that extra room.
That being said, any players that have performances bonuses, for example, Zach Parise and his $750,000 bonus (playing more than 20 games), would roll over into next season.
With Bo Horvat’s new extension, which carries an $8.5 million average annual value, the Islanders, as of now, only have $6.8 million in projected cap space following the conclusion of the 2022-23 season.
Wahlstrom to LTIR this season brings that number down to just a tad over $6 million.
The Islanders also have a few pending unrestricted free agents outside of Parise, in Semyon Varlamov, Scott Mayfield & Hudson Fasching, along with restricted free agents Wahlstrom, Samuel Bolduc, and Parker Wotherspoon.
If Wahlstrom made more, a move to LTIR would have made sense. But due to his contract and the Islanders deadline cap space plus next year’s cap situation, it does not make sense at all.