The early returns on Andrew Ladd’s seven-year, $38.5-million contract haven’t been good for the New York Islanders, but there is finally some reason for Ladd to celebrate.
Ladd came into Monday’s game against the Vancouver Canucks with a sizeable monkey on his back. After signing the big-money deal with the Islanders in the off-season, he was expecting to be a key contributor, but the only tangible contribution he had made to the team in the first dozen games of the season was a single assist — that’s it, one helper in 12 games — during an Oct. 23 game against the Minnesota Wild.
But there’s hope Tuesday that Ladd’s season could be turning around after he caught a bounce and potted his first goal as an Islander.
In the third period of Monday’s 4-2 win over the Canucks, Ladd was walking the blueline as the puck was worked down low, took a quick and sneaky backhand pass from defenseman Nick Leddy and snapped off a quick shot that had some power behind it. Were it not for Canucks defenseman Nikita Tryamkin, Ladd’s shot would have gone wide, but it deflected off the towering defender and past Ryan Miller to give Ladd his first as an Islander:
Alan Quine won’t exactly show up on the score sheet for his effort there, but Ladd likely knows that without the pressure from Quine, which drove Tryamkin into the shooting lane, we’re talking about how Ladd has gone a baker’s dozen without netting a single goal in Brooklyn.
There was no doubt that the dam was eventually going to break for Ladd, but there’s no telling if this is the start of a flood of goals for the Islanders’ big off-season signee. Heading into Monday’s game, he was one of only 12 players to manage 25 shots without a single goal, and more than 126 players had put at least 25 pucks on net heading into Monday’s games. The only other forwards to have as much trouble scoring as Ladd are Toronto Maple Leafs rookie Zach Hyman and Carolina Hurricanes center Elias Lindholm.
Even with Ladd netting first goal of the season, though, there’s still a lot of work to be done on his part. He hasn’t been a suitable replacement quite yet for the likes of Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen, and his current points pace has him set to be a 12-point player which is, uh, far from what’s expected from a winger making $5.5 million per season.
Getting the first one could help Ladd get some confidence back, though, and maybe all of his opportunities will start paying dividends in the near future. The Islanders can only hope.
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