The New York Islanders have a problem. The team has over $20 million in cap space tied between five players that combined for an average of 7.6 points per player. According to CapFriendly, the Islanders have a little under $4 million in cap space available to re-sign star player Mathew Barzal. To say the Islanders are in a bind would be an understatement. They need a solution — and fast. Their savior — and potential suitor of one of their cap woes — may come in the form of the Detroit Red Wings. Andrew Ladd seems like the perfect suitor.
After finishing in last place, the Red Wings are kicking their rebuild into high gear. General manager Steve Yzerman‘s goal for the next few seasons is to acquire as many picks and prospects as they possible. A trade between the Islanders and the Red Wings could prove advantageous for both sides. By trading for Andrew Ladd, the Detroit Red Wings have the opportunity to earn a slew of high picks in exchange for some cap space freedom for the Islanders.
A Brief Overview on Ladd and the Islanders
In 2016, the Islanders signed Ladd to a seven-year, $38.5 million contract. The team hoped to replace the void left after Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen departed to free agency. Unfortunately, Ladd struggled, scoring just 72 points in 181 games. In the 2019-20 season, Ladd was demoted to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the Islanders’ AHL affiliate. He ended the season with just 14 points in 34 games. Ladd’s contract continues through the next three years with an average annual value of $5.5 million on the cap.
After a surprisingly successful playoff campaign, the Islanders aim to continue their push this upcoming season with renewed force. With Ladd’s contract off the books, the Islanders would have more cap freedom. They could re-sign Barzal without much of a headache while prepping for a further playoff push. Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello needs to consider his options when looking at cap space. Enter the Detroit Red Wings, a potential solution for the Islanders’ problems.
The Pros of Trading for Andrew Ladd
When a team is in the midst of a rebuild, making the best of a bad situation is the best way to build for a better future. Typically, rebuilding rosters have a wide amount of cap space. Weaponizing that flexibility is a great way to earn a few extra picks like the Red Wings did in the Marc Staal trade. The Detroit Red Wings have over $9.5 million in cap space. With so much freedom, they can easily absorb the blow of a player like Andrew Ladd. Leveraging their cap space to help a contender like the Islanders should be at the top of Yzerman’s list.
In order to facilitate a trade, the Red Wings will require a first round pick, at minimum in return. If Yzerman hopes to build on the future, he should set his asking price high. A first-round pick in 2022 or 2023 should be a minimum asking price. With the extra pick, the Red Wings can secure a high-powered player while the Islanders can breathe a sigh of relief. 2022’s draft could secure an extra shot at the highly-coveted Shane Wright for the Red Wings. 2023, on the other hand, may give the Red Wings a chance to draft high, depending on the age and status of the Islanders’ roster. At worst, the Red Wings secure another high draft pick. At best, Shane Wright lands in Detroit. It seems like a no-brainer.
The Cons of Trading for Ladd
Having said that, it’s important to recognize Ladd’s cap situation. Ladd is signed through the 2022-23 season. While three years may seem far away now, the trade begs an important question: when will the Red Wings enter their contending window? Players like Lucas Raymond, Filip Zadina, and Moritz Seider will either be approaching the end of their entry-level contracts or expecting a raise. Additionally, Anthony Mantha, Dylan Larkin, and Tyler Bertuzzi will need pay raises in the following years. Trading for a contract as hefty as Ladd’s might require a bit of foresight from Yzerman and company as they consider the future of the team.
As of right now, the team is nowhere near close to contention. They have years of drafting and developing left. Luck, fortunately, is on Yzerman’s side from the financial standpoint. As of right now, only two contracts exist on the 2022-23 season’s books: Larkin’s and Mantha’s. This gift-wrapped opportunity gives Yzerman near-unlimited freedom to build the roster on his own terms. With so much at his disposal, trading for a player like Ladd seems like a no-brainer. If he can catch Lamoriello at the right time, he might even be able to secure a player like Joshua Ho-Sang in addition to the draft pick.