Should New York Islanders fans be worried about Andrew Ladd? While this season has been all about amazing offense, the forward has hit an impressive slump on the third line.
The answer is yes. New York Islanders forward, Andrew Ladd has all but disappeared in the 2017-2018 season. With only 21 points on the season, Ladd has fallen behind even the streaky Brock Nelson in terms of production. Even more troubling, the 32-year-old only has one goal through his last 16 games and two goals in his last 25.
The past few months have been critical when it comes to the Islanders regaining traction and fully planting themselves in the playoff race. This is the least opportune time for Andrew Ladd to fade away or fall off entirely.
While the 2017-2018 New York Islanders are clearly an offensive-minded team, Ladd’s underproduction has been ignored for the most part. However, it should have been a red flag to fans that there was almost no difference on the ice when Ladd was sidelined with an injury earlier this winter.
In his absence, Anthony Beauvillier was able to take his place on the second line and the chemistry of Barzal and Beauvillier was born. With those two young players combined with the skill of Jordan Eberle on Barzal’s other wing, the Islanders’ top two lines only became more powerful.
Not wanting to disturb the flow that had been established between 13, 72 and 7 on the second line, Doug Weight put Ladd in a more permanent position on the third line after his return. Centered by Brock Nelson, one could pin 16’s decline on the failings of his linemates.
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However, when signing Ladd in the summer of 2016, the intention was clear: put him on Tavares’ wing. This alone implies that the veteran should be able to hold his own and have the skill enough to even lead his own line to success.
Throughout the 2016-2017 season, it was clear that Ladd was nursing an injury that hindered his play and thus, his streaky play was mostly excused. However, entering 2017-2018 healthy and surrounded by young/new faces on the second line, his production was predicted to be high.
Ladd’s lack of scoring can’t even be entirely blamed on his new linemates. He himself seems to be struggling in situations that should be more than simple enough for he alone to convert on. This past Friday in a game against the Hurricanes, he completely mishandled a 2-on-0 odd man rush.
The situation only gets bleaker when you consider Ladd’s contract. The 32-year-old is signed through 2023 with an AAV of 5.5 million and a NTC to boot. If the forward has hit a wall due to age now, the Islanders could be in trouble down the road.
This being said, Ladd’s possession metrics have remained positive even in a slump. With a Corsi of 50.1 on the season, the forward still remains solid in a time of defensive disaster.
Ultimately, it’s important to remember that Ladd such not take precedence over up-and-coming stars. In upcoming years, we’ll see his contract become more of a burden and as lowly becomes an expensive fourth line player.