The New York Islanders entered free agency in need of a scoring forward and believe they got exactly what they need in Andrew Ladd.
The Islanders signed Ladd to a seven-year deal with a reported cap hit of $5.5 million. The 30-year-old winger is coming off a season split between the Winnipeg Jets and Chicago Blackhawks that saw him net 25 goals and tally 21 assists. It was the third straight year he had scored 20 or more goals, though he did have 18 in 48 games in the shortened 2012-13 season.
Ladd will essentially replace Kyle Okposo who is believed to have a deal in place with the Buffalo Sabres at the time of this writing. Okposo scored 22 goals for the Islanders last season. Ladd is a bit of an upgrade over Okposo, but will he be worth the investment of seven years when he will turn 31 in December? The Islanders also lost Frans Nielsen to the Detroit Red Wings and are likely to lose Matt Martin as well.
The Islanders think they are close to contending for a Stanley Cup. John Tavares is one of the best and most exciting players in the NHL and there are enough pieces around him to make a Cup run possible. The Islanders better hope a Cup run is in the near future because the Ladd contract could get ugly fast. Paying a player into his late thirties such a high cap hit could come back to haunt them.
The real question is, did the Islanders get better or worse? Ladd can replace Okposo but he can’t replace Nielsen. How the Islanders do replace Nielsen will dictate how good they will be in 2016-17. Right now it doesn’t look good.