It’s hard to find a place to begin when talking about how poorly this season is going for the New York Islanders. Is it that they’re sitting at the bottom of the Eastern Conference? Or is it that they lost two of their most influential players during the offseason (with both Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen playing very well for the Buffalo Sabres and Detroit Red Wings, respectively)? Or perhaps it’s that the big names that they signed to fill in have flopped, immensely.
The New York Islanders put a lot of trust in winger Andrew Ladd being able to steady the ship, fill in for some of the scoring lost in Okposo and Nielsen leaving, as well as to help nurture the new talents that the Isles were bringing in. This trust came in the form of a seven-year, $38.5 million deal, but as it stands, Ladd is the Islanders’ 16th highest scorer with an embarrassing four goals and three assists and -10 rating – from a player who averaged 0.61 points per game prior to his move to New York.
Despite the many aspects that may be wrong with the New York Islanders, Andrew Ladd’s performances stick out as the most obvious.
Andrew Ladd not filling in
Last season, the New York Islanders clocked in a mighty 100 points, with the strength of the Metropolitan Division keeping them down as the top wild card seed in the East. Outstanding performances from all of the New York Islanders, but particularly John Tavares, pulled them past the Florida Panthers in the first round, but then the superior Tampa Bay Lightning took them down in five games in the next.
With that being their furthest cup run since 1993, the New York Islanders were expected to stay strong this season and maybe even contend for a divisional playoff spot. But then they lost Okposo and Nielsen, and signed Jason Chimera, Andrew Ladd and P.A. Paranteau – who they left to the waivers and was picked up by the New Jersey Devils – to fill in for them.
Last season, Andrew Ladd saw his stat lines drop, but this was greatly due to his contract situation with the Winnipeg Jets and him eventually being traded to the Chicago Blackhawks. With 25 goals and 46 points across 78 games for two teams last season, Ladd looked to be one of the best free agents on the market, outside of Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen.
Now standing with seven points in 31 games, a -10 rating, 18 penalty minutes and a 7.7 shooting percentage, it’s safe to say that the 31-year-old is having the worst season of his career.
What’s going wrong for Ladd so far?
It wouldn’t be fair to say that he wasn’t given a fair chance at a top line pairing, as he spent the first seven games alongside John Tavares on Line 1, but to no avail. Since then he has been rolled around the other lines, with head coach Jack Capuano ever shuffling the roster to try and find some form of success.
Andrew Ladd has been shuffled all around the lines, with a new player getting an assist on each of his four goals, with him also setting up three different scorers as well. Clearly, Ladd has been unable to find his feet on any line, which is strange because he has always proven to be a quality NHL player, so as much as Ladd should really be stepping-up his play, the head coach should take some of the blame.
How can Ladd and the Islanders improve?
As a general rule, if you don’t shoot, you can’t score. In seven games this season, Andrew Ladd has failed to register a single shot, and in nine games he only shot once. However, for his most recent goal – hosting the Chicago Blackhawks on December 15 – Ladd clocked in six shots, so if he puts in the effort he reaps the rewards.
However, if Jack Capuano wants to keep his job, he needs Ladd to get on the score sheet a lot more, which should help to get more wins in for the Islanders. According to Newsday, Capuano threatened to make some serious changes to his lines after they lost to the Washington Capitals on December 13, clearly aiming his displeasure at Andrew Ladd, but only ended up scratching rookie Anthony Beauvillier for Alan Quine.
Maybe Capuano make good on these threats and scratch the likes of Andrew Ladd for a game or two, try bringing in highly touted 2014 draft picks Josh Ho-Sang and Michael Dal Colle up from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Sure, the two haven’t put up amazing numbers in this first pro-season of theirs, but they’ll bring a new offensive bite to the team, which seems to have been lost on Ladd.
Will the New York Islanders make the playoffs?
Unless some serious changes are made, by which I mean either the head coach makes some changes to his personnel or he himself leaves the club, the New York Islanders don’t look to be going anywhere. Every team above them has more potential upside to their game, be it returning to more home games or the eventual return of injured stars, either way, something big needs to happen for the Islanders to start clawing their way back up the table.
Andrew Ladd may be the key to that, for if he were to return to his usual rate of scoring, it would be a major boost to the team, completely flipping his current, near useless performances, into being a viable option and a scoring threat.
What do you think to Andrew Ladd’s performances so far this season? Let us know in the comments section below.