With the expansion draft approaching, trade season is picking up steam.
The New York Islanders kicked off their expansion planning on Friday evening with a trade, sending defenceman, Nick Leddy to the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft and forward, Richard Panik.
As per the terms of the deal, the Red Wings agreed to retain 50% of Panik's salary, clocking in at $1.375 million per year for the next two seasons.
This is a somewhat uncharacteristic move for the Red Wings, a team that has been firmly positioned in rebuilding mode ever since general manager, Steve Yzerman came aboard in 2019. Surrendering a second-round pick and retaining a sizeable chunk of a depth contributor's salary just to acquire a 30-year-old defenceman with one year remaining on his contract doesn't really fit the modus operandi of a team that has its sights set towards the far, far future.
Still, Leddy can be a decent asset if deployed properly. The veteran defender underwent a relative offensive resurgence in 2021, scoring a career-best points-per-60-minutes to the tune of 31 points in 56 games all while averaging over 21 minutes of ice time on a team that made it all the way to the Stanley Cup semi-finals.
Leddy's underlying numbers, however, are far less kind, painting the picture of a defender with little ability to drive play on his own. There's a good chance, in fact, that the Red Wings acquired him with the intention of inflating his numbers via excess playing time before ultimately flipping him for a greater return at the trade deadline.
As for Panik, the veteran winger is set to join his seventh NHL team after today's move, coming off a season in which he scored just 13 points in 48 games split between the Red Wings and Washington Capitals.
With the Islanders still in need of at least one defenceman eligible to be exposed in the expansion draft, their work is not yet done. Stay tuned.