Facing a frightening summer crunch amid a flat salary cap, the New York Islanders have shed major salary cap commitments for the second time in two days.
On the eve of the Expansion Draft, GM Lou Lamoriello followed up Friday night’s trade of Nick Leddy to the Detroit Red Wings with a much more impressive feat: Finding someone to take Andrew Ladd, who hasn’t been entrusted with a lineup spot the past two seasons.
The deal with the Arizona Coyotes was costly but necessary, burying a hefty debt (Ladd’s $5.5 million cap hit) Lamoriello inherited from the Garth Snow/Doug Weigh era.
Along with Ladd — whom the Coyotes intend to use as a veteran forward and mentor if he “earns” a spot — the Islanders sent to the Coyotes:
- A 2nd-round pick in this summer’s draft (2021, 60th overall, originally from the Avalanche in last summer’s cap headache pill, the Devon Toews trade)
- A conditional 2nd-round pick in the 2022 draft (the condition being that it is the better of the two they currently possess, according to Arthur Staple)
- A conditional 3rd-round pick in the 2023 draft (Update to this condition, per Cap Friendly: Arizona does NOT get this pick if Ladd: 1) plays in any pro-games in 2022-23 while under his current contract, or 2) retires prior to the conclusion of the 2022-23 regular season)
Wow is this some kind of escape from a bad situation. Paying assets for bad deals to go away is far from ideal, but given everything the Isles faced this offseason, they’ve done well to fetch some assets while trading Leddy and spread out the assets they had to use to have someone else take Ladd’s contract.
Impressively, Ladd was traded for nothing other than the “consideration” of someone else actually taking his contract. That’s not a shot at Ladd, who had injuries to both knees that he never appeared to return from (though he is considered fully healthy). But man, it adds another horrific tale to his 2016 free agent class, perhaps the worst few days of decision-making in NHL GM history.
The Isles also finished some other essential business by signing a defenseman to meet Expansion Draft exposure rules, as they needed another defenseman by this afternoon. That came in the form of re-signing Andy Greene to a reported $1 million deal.
What’s this mean? Lamoriello has avoided losing one of his preferred pieces in the Expansion Draft for nothing, has cleared lots of cap space, and now has flexibility to not only retain most of last season’s core (minus Leddy, of course) while also having room to add.
As Staple summed it up in a post-moves post at the Athletic:
That leaves the Islanders with $12.2 million in cap space, plus the presumed $6 million of Johnny Boychuk’s deal when he goes on long-term injured reserve at the start of the season. That $18.2 million safely covers prospective deals for Anthony Beauvillier, Adam Pelech and Ilya Sorokin; it also covers a decent deal for Casey Cizikas and maybe even Kyle Palmieri, too, given that Leo Komarov’s $3 million is on the books right now.
Names like Vladimir Tarasenko (who’s requested a trade from the Blues) and Gabriel Landeskog (an unrestricted free agent who the Avalanche have yet to progress) have been floated — and both coveted wingers apparently have the Islanders on their “acceptable wish” list. There is the much-discussed possibility of still exposing Jordan Eberle or including him in a trade. But really, there are all kinds of options now, including addressing the hole on the left side of the blueline that Leddy’s departure created.
Given Lamoriello and Trotz’s history, they’ll want to shore up that blueline, but those headline winger names are fun to ponder too, and today’s move gives them much-needed flexibility.
Just a couple of days into the much-promised eventful mid-July in the NHL, it’s living up to the hype.
Tomorrow we’ll officially learn who’s on the unprotected list for Seattle’s expansion picks.