The New York Islanders entered this season with a significant change to their roster. Gone were long-time contributors Frans Nielsen, Kyle Okposo, and Matt Martin. Joining the team through free agency were Andrew Ladd and Jason Chimera. It’s taken a good part of the season, but the Islanders got the Ladd and Chimera they were counting on.
When the New York Islanders signed the then 31-year old Andrew Ladd to a seven-year, $38.5 million dollar contract it was to help replace the loss of scoring due to the departure of Kyle Okposo. Being a part of two Stanley Cup winning teams the Islanders felt Ladd could bring a lot of veteran leadership to the club as well.
However, the early part of the season was a huge struggle for Ladd. He only scored two goals in his first 24 games. Hard to believe considering some of those early games were played alongside John Tavares.
But after missing a few games mid-season to rest a chronic injury, Ladd looks like the player the Islanders thought they were getting. Currently, the British Columbia native is third on the team with 16 goals and he has lit the lamp eight times in his last 12 games.
New York Islanders
While Jason Chimera‘s two-year contract signing last summer was less scrutinized and viewed favorably, he too got off to a very rocky start with the Islanders.
While 37 years of age, most felt Chimera still brought plenty to the table with his size, skating, complementing scoring, leadership, and physical play.
Having said all that Chimera started very slowly this season, even getting called out by then head coach Jack Capuano. One had to wonder had the veteran forward started a fast decline due to his age.
But like Ladd, eventually, Chimera found his game. Chimera has a strong chance to repeat his 20-goal performance of last season, as he currently sits with 15 goals. The Edmonton native has been on fire lately with 10 goals in his last 19 games.
Obviously, the Islanders are in the battle royale to land that second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. To land that precious playoffs spot the Isles might have to beat out as many as eight Eastern Conference foes.
Stating that every game remaining and every point in the standings is like gold is an understatement. That is why the Islanders need both Ladd and Chimera to continue their strong play the rest of the regular season.
In addition, the Islanders need both veterans to be leaders and help the young guys maximize their performance the rest of the way as well.
It’s going to take every ounce of effort and performance for the Islanders to return to the playoffs for the fourth time in the last five years.