On July 1, 2016, the Islanders lost two of their most important offensive players to free agency. Center Frans Neilson left for Detroit and winger Kyle Okposo joined the Sabres. Scrambling to find replacements, the Islanders went out and signed former Jets captain Andrew Ladd to a seven-year deal worth $38 million. The Islanders signed Andrew Ladd with hopes that he would be able to fill the void left by Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielson. Ladd, who had previously played for the Hurricanes, Jets, and Blackhawks, was also brought in to be a leader in the locker room.
Ladd was the last captain for the Atlanta Thrashers and the first captain for the new Winnipeg Jets. He was a fan favorite in Winnipeg and for a good reason. In his five full seasons in the Atlanta and Winnipeg franchise, Ladd scored 20 goals or more four times.
Despite that, he was never a big point-getter. Before the 2016 offseason, the most points Ladd had in a season was 62 in the 2014-15 season. Despite this, Garth Snow gave him a seven-year deal ensuring he will be a member of the Islanders organization until 2023.
In Ladds’ first season as an Islander, he struggled during the beginning of the year but found his footing when the Islanders fired Jack Capuano and brought in Doug Weight as the interim head coach. He finished the year with 23 goals which were the third-most on the team. However, Ladd only managed eight assists and finished the year with a measly 31 points in 78 games.
Year two for Ladd left much to be desired as well. Scoring only 13 goals and 17 assists for 29 points was not a good look for a player that would still be owed $5.5 million a year over the next five seasons.
This past season was Ladds’ third year on his contract. Despite the fantastic season by most members of the team such as Mat Barzal, Anders Lee, Josh Bailey and Anthony Beauvilier, Ladd missed most of the season due to injury. Ladd only played 26 games this past season, scoring three goals, notching eight assists for a total of 11 points. Shortly after returning from a lower-body injury in February, Ladd tore his ACL in March missing the end of the regular season and the playoffs.
Ladd will be beginning this 2019-2020 season on the injured reserve and has no timetable for return. With a roster full of young stars and solid veterans, where does Ladd fit in when he gets healthy? He is 33-years-old, injured, not getting any younger and there are guys ready to take his place now.
Trading Ladd would be nearly impossible. This means the Islanders will need to pay the remaining $22 million to Ladd over the next four years unless the new Seattle organization swoops in and saves the day.
The aging veteran who once was a fan favorite has put the Islanders in a tight spot. Only time will tell what happens to Andrew Ladd.