EAST MEADOW — Islanders president and general manager Lou Lamoriello bristled at the question of whether or not his and head coach Lane Lambert’s future with the organization was secure after an inconsistent season led to a first-round playoff loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.
“I don’t know why these are such difficult questions. We are here,” Lamoriello said despite his contractual situation being shrouded in mystery and Lambert having not been made available after his first season as head coach. “And as far as contractual situations, I think they’re all personal. We’re both under contract, have been, and will be.”
With simple questions out the way, Lamoriello and Lambert are tasked with returning the Islanders back to the team that made two consecutive Stanley Cup semifinals in 2020 and 2021 — and it appears the blueprint will remain largely the same when it comes to dealing with free agents.
The 81-year-old divulged that the retaining of his team’s current free agents, forwards Zach Parise, Pierre Engvall, defenseman Scott Mayfield, and goalie Semyon Varlamov are “priorities” for the Islanders this summer.
“Our intention is to look at the people that we know first and feel that we’d like back,” Lamoriello said. “We certainly would like Scott back and certainly Engvall, Zach, and Varlamov. Right on the record. They are priorities.
“But this is their time. They have every right to this time in their career, so they have to make whatever decisions are best for them. Hopefully, this is the decision.”
Varlamov, who can test the market and realistically get starting time and money, has maintained that he wants to stay with the Islanders as the backup to Ilya Sorokin — who is also in need of a long-term contract within the next year. The market for Mayfield and Engvall, both coming off career years in terms of production on the stat sheet, is also expected to be robust.
For the 38-year-old Parise, however, Lamoriello echoed the sentiments that the veteran forward put forth last month, indicating that his NHL future is with the Islanders “or nowhere,” as retirement still appears to be on the table.
“He’s just taking a step back and looking at what’s best for his family and making a decision,” Lamoriello said. “We certainly want him back. We’ve told him that. We’ll encourage him any way we possibly can.”