Islanders: What to Do with Andrew Ladd

As the New York Islanders finally seem to be getting back to full strength after the incredible amount of injuries they have had, New York has one more small problem to fix: Andrew Ladd. 

After tearing his ACL a season ago, Ladd looks like he is finally healthy enough get back on the ice. He appeared in five games with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the American Hockey on his rehab assignment, but general manager Lou Lamoriello felt that Ladd wasn’t ready to play in the NHL yet. 

Why He Was Placed on Waivers

It seems like the plan all along between Lamoriello and Ladd was for the veteran to continue to play in the AHL. He scored one goal in his five games with the Sound Tigers, but with the Islanders playing so well there is no point of him disrupting any chemistry the team has had. The Islanders recently had a 10-game winning streak and have recorded a point in each of their last 13 games. 

By placing him on waivers, it gives every team in the NHL the opportunity to claim him. However, with Ladd being owed over $15 million over the next four years, including 2019-20, it’s hard to imagine any team takes on the contract of the 33-year-old. 

Andrew Ladd
UNIONDALE, NY – MARCH 03: Andrew Ladd #16 of the New York Islanders skates against the Philadelphia Flyers. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)

He has only scored 15 goals in the past two seasons and through 99 games. Should he go unclaimed, he can go play for the Sound Tigers until he is ready for the call-up. The Islanders have not said how long this stint will last. 

Can They Buy Him Out?

With any player on a long-term contract, there is always the possibility that the player can be bought out. The Islanders did that with their former goalie Rick DiPietro, but it’s going to be hard to do the same with Ladd. Since he is over 26 years old, if the Islanders were to buy him out, they would have to pay two-thirds of the remaining $3 million he’s owed in salary ($1 million per season).

Rick DiPietro, New York Islanders
Rick DiPietro had an injury-plagued career with the Islanders and was eventually bought out. (Anthony Gruppuso/USA TODAY Sports)

That means the Islanders would have to pay $2 million for double the length of the contract, or six years. They would also be required to pay $333,333 per year for the next six years. When you add those two amounts, plus the $9 million he’s owed in remaining signing bonuses, it would end up costing them $2 less than $15.5 million. As a result, they are better off keeping him around as a veteran in the future, as he knows what it’s like to win a Stanley Cup, which he did in 2006 and 2010. It is also just another poor contract that was handed out by former general manager Garth Snow.

Possible Trade Scenarios

There is really only one scenario in which a team may acquire Ladd. If a team had an interest in taking on the remaining contract, the Islanders would need to send over a few draft picks. We have seen this happen before in the NHL where teams that need to reach the salary floor will take on a bad contract, in addition to receiving draft compensation, in hopes of finding a superstar in the draft. 

One possible team that could be interested is the Ottawa Senators. They are clearly in a rebuild mode, but with only $36.4 million committed for next season and the need to reach the salary floor, Ladd can help them. They already have a bunch of draft picks from the Erik Karlsson trade, as well as the Matt Duchene trade, and could look for a few others plus a veteran to help out the younger players. Of course, there is Ladd’s trade protection to consider. Currently, a full no-trade clause, his protection reduces to a modified no-trade clause next year that allows him to block a trade to 15 teams. That clause remains throughout the contract’s duration.

Ottawa Senators Anders Nilsson Ottawa Senators defenceman Christian Wolanin New York Islanders Valtteri Filppula
Ottawa Senators goaltender Anders Nilsson makes a save as Ottawa Senators defenceman Christian Wolanin and New York Islanders centre Valtteri Filppula battle (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand)

If Ladd doesn’t get traded and can make it back to the NHL, he could potentially see time playing on the third line. As of right now, with Tom Kuhnhackl and Matt Martin out for an extended period of time, Ladd can break into the lineup at the expense of Ross Johnston. As well as Johnston has played, it’s hard to commit to a guy every night who doesn’t see the ice in the third period. Ladd won’t be able to play every day, but could potentially still dress a couple of times a week as the schedule gets busier.

Up next, Ladd will play for Bridgeport this upcoming weekend when the Sounds Tigers hit the road for a pair of games. The NHL team will also be going on the road as the Islanders play 10 of their next 13 away from home.