Andrew Ladd may never get a better (or another) chance to prove his worth to the Islanders than in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs this summer.
The 34-year-old forward, who the Islanders signed before the 2016-17 season, has played in more AHL than NHL games over the past two seasons.
Ladd tore his ACL in March 2019 and was expected to miss five months. Five months became eight, and Ladd found himself on a conditioning stint in Bridgeport. He scored 11 goals in 34 games with the Sound Tigers this season.
Ladd only found himself in the NHL lineup four times this season. He scored one goal and was a +2 against Vancouver in the last game of the regular season.
Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello said previously that all injured players would be available for the 2020 playoffs. That includes Andrew Ladd. Why shouldn’t the Islanders utilize him?
The first and fourth lines should look like this:
Lee – Barzal – Eberle
Martin – Cizikas – Clutterbuck
At multiple points in the season, the line of Beauviller, Nelson, and Brassard found great chemistry. I think Trotz should play them together in the playoffs. That leaves the newly acquired J.G Pageau, Josh Bailey and someone else.
You can slot in Leo Komarov. He has 14 points in 48 games. That is not terrible, but he’s been fourth line role most of the season with the injury bug striking the Islanders. Pageau and Bailey are terrific forwards and a great winger can make that line lethal. Komarov doesn’t fit that description, especially considering that seven of his 14 points came either against Detroit or the first three games of the season.
The same logic disqualifies Michael Dal Colle. He only had 10 points in 53 games. Same with Otto Koivula, Tom Kuhnhackl and Ross Johnston.
All of the aforementioned players are excellent depth pieces, but in an ideal lineup, I’d take Andrew Ladd over all of them, especially next to Pageau and Bailey.
Isles fans got to see Ladd in the team’s last game of the season. Coach Trotz said after the game that he played great. Ladd was hoping to use the game as a springboard heading into a playoff push.
“It’s fun to be back in that room, playing with those guys and contributing, so hopefully we can get her going in the right direction here,” Ladd said.
Obviously there would be no more games to play after that, but it seemed like Ladd was looking forward to a strong end of the season.
Ladd’s stats from his time in New York don’t paint a pretty picture, but considering his pedigree, maybe he deserves a shot.
He’s a two time Stanley Cup champion, winning it all with Carolina in 2006 and Chicago in 2010. He has the ability to play in all situations, helpful considering the power play was ranked 24th overall at the pause.
Even if it might be a gamble, I’d bet on Ladd more than a lot of the alternatives.