The New York Islanders struck quickly in free agency, signing former Chicago Blackhawks left winger and Winnipeg captain Andrew Ladd for seven years at $5.5 million per. For a player who turns 31 in December, that's a long contract.
But if you're New York, you know it's win-now time. John Tavares is in his prime and he, now that Steven Stamkos is off the market, becomes the most coveted potential free agent of the future (JT's deal ends in the summer of 2018). You've also got some nice talents in Travis Hamonic, Johnny Boychuk and Brock Nelson to name a few, but Tavares is the key. Hypothetically, you put Ladd on Tavares' wing with Nelson and that's a pretty good first line. Ladd put up 12 points in 19 games with Chicago after he was traded from Winnipeg, so the offense is there when he's in the right situation (though his post-season was less fruitful). Most importantly for New York, he's yet another veteran with rings. Ladd won the Cup in 2006 with Carolina and 2010 with Chicago. He's a leader and a character guy, too. The risk here comes four years down the road, perhaps sooner. Ladd is already on the wrong side of 30 and has played a rugged style of play that will naturally wear him down eventually. How soon that happens will color this deal in the end. If Ladd can help the Islanders get past the second round for the first time since 1993, it will be worth it – at least in the short-term. If the squad continues to be good but not great, however, this will be a long contract.
WHAT ADVANCED STATS SAY: This deal will not look good near the end of it, and it barely looks decent now. Ladd has shown some real decline over the last three seasons in his underlying numbers and last year was a huge low for his scoring totals. He could be a great fit on a line with John Tavares and those numbers could jump back up, but the possession stats haven’t been great. Even by goals, Ladd’s value was dead-even on the ice compared to off the ice. There’s also his penchant for taking dumb penalties that could cost the Islanders gravely, especially after losing their top PK-er in Frans Nielsen.
By Dominik Luszczyszyn