Last summer, the New York Islanders inked free agent winger Andrew Ladd to a seven-year, $38.5-million-dollar deal, with an annual salary-cap hit of $5.5 million. While he may not have put up the numbers to back up that deal next in 2016, the Islanders will rely heavily on Ladd next season.
Ladd’s Islander tenure got off to be atrocious start when he scored only two goals in his first 24 games. He just didn’t seem like the type of player the Isles should have invested $38.5 million into for seven years. This was only halfway through season one!
But in early January Ladd took a week to rest an injured back. An injury he’d reportedly been nursing since the summer. When he returned, he was a completely different player.
Bye Bye Jack
With Jack Capuano in the rear view mirror came the emergence of the Islanders from the depth of the eastern conference and it started with Ladd. The 31-year-old finished with 15 goals in his final 37 games leaving the Islanders just short of a playoff spot. He finished the season with 23 goals, the sixth 20 goal season of his career.
More from Editorials
- Islanders key to success: Load management with goalies
- Islanders Zdeno Chara trending in the right direction
- Islanders: Semyon Varlamov Deserves Benefit of the Doubt
- Islanders Ilya Sorokin becoming number one goalie
- Islanders Zach Parise Was Quiet in Return to Minnesota
When healthy Ladd proved to be a force to be reckoned with on the Islanders second line. He played with much more confidence and physicality in his game. With Tavares likely to be paired with Anders Lee and Jordan Eberle on the team’s top line, the Islanders outside scoring will have to start with Ladd.
If Ladd was healthy and had any bit of a pulse to start the season he, without a doubt, could have been a 30 goal scorer last season. If the Islanders can get that type of contribution for a full season paired with some of the team’s up and coming youth, they will be in great shape.
He and his family will now be settled in New York from the start of the season. He will be used to the stadium, media, and fans. No more surprises and a sense of comfort should help Ladd continue to produce.
For years the Islanders have not only lacked a wing man for Tavares but have also been without a solid line outside of anything that included Tavares. That all has the potential to change in October.
Overall it’s better for both Ladd and Tavares to be separated again this season. I expect Doug Weight to continue to get the most out of his former teammate. I believe Ladd will have an excellent season in 2017-2018.