This is how NHL free agency works in the "discussion window" era: former Carolina Hurricane, Chicago Blackhawk and Winnipeg Jet (and Thrasher, but...) Andrew Ladd is on Long Island today, meeting with the New York Islanders and setting off an eruption in Isles Twitter for the next 36 hours or so.
Just click through for reactions to either of these tweets:
#Isles hosting pending UFA Andrew Ladd today on LI.— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) June 30, 2016
Andrew Ladd is here. #Isles— Brian Compton (@BComptonNHL) June 30, 2016
The Isles under Garth Snow don't tell nobody nothin' when it comes to planning moves, but their interest in Ladd was one they wouldn't be able to keep quiet anyway. It's been suggested by the above two reporters since before the flirtation window began.
It may be part of "Plan B" after Steven Stamkos re-signed with Tampa and Taylor Hall was traded elsewhere, but chances are it was already in the cards considering Ladd is in town less than 24 hours after those other big news broke.
It's a curious move, too: Ladd is older -- albeit "more experienced" and a twice-Cup winner and all that -- than longtime Isle Kyle Okposo, who is going to command more on the market but also be more productive over the life of his next contract. But the Isles, with new majority ownership coming in, may be more focused on next season when Ladd should still be really useful, if not a true first-line wing.
The challenge of this offseason is that the Islanders clearly to need to alter their mix, but it's not so clear how best to do that within the possible free agents and trades available. Three of the best options disappeared in a 23-minute span yesterday, two of them before the Isles ever had a crack at them.
If Ladd signs with the Isles while Okposo and Frans Nielsen walk, the Isles will have gotten older...and the question will remain how they're going to get better.
But so far this is just flirtation. Stay tuned.