We recently posted that the New York Islanders have finally given John Tavares his much needed consistent partner in Andrew Ladd. But is he really the best option, or did we let one slip away in free agency?
It was bittersweet for Islanders fans. We hated losing him, but we’re happy to see him get the money he deserves. We just wish it could have been done here with us.
We established that Kyle and former teammate John Tavares weren’t really given a fair shake at forming a fruitful relationship on the ice along the lines of Jamie Benn/Tyler Seguin or even Patrick Kane/Artemi Panarin.
What If: Kyle Okposo Stays
Which leaves a sort-of “what if”. What if they were given the chance to galvanize a partnership? Both Okposo and Ladd seem like similar types of players so their intangible effects on the ice should be similar.
Granted Ladd has two Stanley Cup rings and Okposo has none. Ladd’s also been a team captain. But let’s consider those as locker room intangibles and that their effects on the ice are negligible. They’re great for team cohesiveness but two rings and their presence could certainly be correlated to certain factors
The only knock for Kyle is perhaps the money he eventually signed for in Buffalo. Kyle has a seven year $6 million cap with the Sabres. Compared to Ladd’s seven year $5.5 million cap hit with the Islanders.
Just look at the deals both players signed and Okposo’s seems friendlier outside of the extra $500 thousand a year.
Ladd’s deal has an extra $6.5 million in salary bonus money over the course of the seven years. Salary bonuses make deals buyout proof because salary bonuses aren’t counted in the 2/3 of the cost of the buyout. A smaller salary bonus amount makes it friendly for management down the line. Advantage Okposo.
Both Okposo and Ladd have no move and modified no-trade clauses tossed into their contracts. Both have no-move clauses in the opening two years. But Okposo’s transitions directly into a modified no-trade clause effective year three, while Ladd has two years of a no-trade clause.
Advantage again for Okposo here. The deal makes Okposo a more movable asset in the long-run. Making the deal more palpable for management.
The Argument of Production and Experience
The comparable between the two deals weighs in Okposo’s favor until you consider the price. But is $3.5 million over seven years what broke this deal down with the New York Islanders? Maybe, but it’s not like Okposo wasn’t worth that extra sum.
Over the last three years, Okposo scored 184 points while Ladd produced 162 over the same period of time. Kyle Okposo is also two years younger than Ladd. Okposo is still in his prime, though the tail end of it, and has a better production record than the player the Isles signed.
That average seven point difference per season and two and a half years between Okposo and Ladd is certainly worth a premium.
Then you consider his eight years of experience playing with the Islanders and his seven years playing alongside John Tavares. Both Okposo and Ladd are similar types of players. They play similar types of hockey and even have similar builds. (Ladd is three inches taller while Okposo is 16 pounds heavier).
When you consider that Okposo had a better history with Tavares, a better point production and a friendly deal for management, it’s hard to see why they let Okposo go. Pay the extra $500 thousand and create that dynamic partnership.
It’s possible that there’s more to this story than is out there. Perhaps management just value Ladd more than Okposo. They may even have that $500 thousand cushion earmarked for the eventual contract extension they have to give Tavares next summer. Regardless, a Tavares-Okposo ticket seems better, even for management than the Tavares-Ladd one we have right now.