New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello announced today that Andrew Ladd has been placed on waivers, for the purpose of assigning him to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in the AHL.
Ladd, coming off a second knee surgery to the same knee — and having injured both knees in his career — has been working to get back in the lineup. But clearly he’s not there yet, and there’s no guarantee he’ll ever get back to NHL game shape.
As Lamoriello explained while answering media questions this morning (key points transcribed below):
Lou Lamoriello addresses the media about Andrew Ladd being placed on waivers. pic.twitter.com/i50QPRLin9— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) November 14, 2019
He needs to play in games and see where the strength is, where the liabilities are and so forth.
There’s no timetable [for his recall]. His play, his physical fitness will determine that.
[During the conditioning stint] We’ve seen that certainly the strength of that knee, although being [medically] cleared, allowing him to do the things he has to do to play — we haven’t seen that yet. So he’ll have to be honest with himself, how he feels, where he’s at physically. He’s worked at it. There’s nothing more he could have done. Is he back sooner than maybe he should’ve expected? I’m not a medical person so I don’t make those decisions.
He’s agreed to do this, agreed to go down for the conditioning, and I explained to him today the reasoning [for this assignment] and he understands.
Ladd’s was one of several famously headscratching UFA deals signed around the NHL in 2016, most of which were structured to be virtually lockout- and buyout-proof and have now come to create much regret among the teams that signed them.
#Isles Andrew Ladd does not have to be removed from long-term injured reserve in order to go through waivers and be re-assigned to Bridgeport (*AHL).— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) November 14, 2019
So that limits the Islanders’ flexibility in terms of ever getting out of the cap implications of his contract. But it also means it’s easy to send him to Bridgeport, as no one will claim him on waivers. And if he can continue recovering to the point that he earns an NHL lineup slot again, that at least prevents his contract from becoming completely dead weight.
It’s not that Ladd wasn’t an effective NHLer — he very much was when healthy, though the contract signed by Garth Snow definitely exaggerated his current and reasonably expected future impact.
Ladd had one goal and nine shots in his five games thus far in Bridgeport. Now he’ll have more time to try to get his maximum strength back, and in the very least provide a bit of the ol’ veteran leadership.