The Andrew Ladd contract is one of the worst contracts going in the league and the New York Islanders are stuck with it. Here’s one way they can try to free it up.
When the New York Islanders signed Andrew Ladd to a seven-year $38.5 million contract on July 1, 2016, it was assumed that the last couple of years of that deal would be tough for Ladd. He signed the deal at 30 years old so the Isles were hoping to get three or maybe four good years from Ladd.
They got zero. His first year, he scored 23 goals after a slow start. 23 goals is fine but he gave you virtually no assists. He had just eight on the entire year finishing with 31 points. A $5.5 million cap number and 31 points isn’t going to cut it.
Ladd followed that up last year with even more regression. His goal total dropped to 12 on the year while he only produced 29 points on the year. Now, in year three he’s only played in 14 games.
Yes, he has seven points in those games but he isn’t nearly healthy enough to play and make that kind of money. Plus, Andrew Ladd blocks players like Michael Dal Colle and Keiffer Bellows because he still has four more years left on his deal after this one.
The deal, clearly, is an unmitigated disaster for the Islanders. A buyout wouldn’t make much sense and a trade is unlikely because he has a No Trade Clause this year and next year on top of his $5.5 million cap hit.
There is one other option, and you can thank the Buffalo Sabres for the idea. You can bury the contract, meaning you can send Ladd to the AHL.
After an awful start in 2017-2018, putting up no points in 14 games the Sabres sent former Islander Matt Moulson to the AHL. Moulson had another year left on his deal at $5 million but the Sabres were willing to eat their pride, admitting a mistake, and they took Matt off the roster.
Moving him to Ontario freed up some cap space. As per the CBA, you take the player’s cap hit, subtract the ($650,000 [league minimum salary] + $375,000). So for Moulson it’s $5 million – ($650,000 + 375,000) = $3.975 million against the cap. The Sabres save $1.025 million against the cap.
The same thing can be done with Andrew Ladd. Using that formula you take Ladd’s $5.5 million – ($650,000 + 375,000) = $4.475 million against the cap.
Now, $4.475 million seems like a big cap number for the Islanders to have for a guy who isn’t even playing on the team. When you consider Keiffer Bellows’ $894,166 cap hit, Ladd’s likely replacement, for the next three years it’s almost like you are paying Bellows that money instead.
The Isles, despite their bad contracts still have nearly $10 million in projected cap space right now. Plus, in all likelihood, Ladd wouldn’t want to spend the next four and a half years in the AHL with the Islanders so that NTC would likely be waived.
At that point, the Isles may have to eat $1 million – $2 million a year on that deal to get someone to bite, even for a late draft pick, but it would be completely worth it. Not only is Ladd ineffective but he is also blocking multiple prospects with higher ceilings.
Lou Lamoriello isn’t attached to Ladd, that was Garth Snow’s signing. If Lamoriello wants to really move on and get the future of this team looking bright, this is a move that can jump-start the process.