One last deal slipped in before the Expansion Draft transaction freeze and it is intriguing, to say the least. The Arizona Coyotes have acquired veteran forward Andrew Ladd from the New York Islanders, taking on a bad contract in exchange for several draft picks. Sportsnet’s David Amber was the first to report the deal, while colleague Elliotte Friedman adds that the picks are a 2021 second-rounder, a conditional 2022 second-rounder, and a conditional 2023 third-rounder. The Coyotes will receive the higher pick of the Islanders’ two 2022 second-round selections, their own and the Colorado Avalanche’s. The third-round pick will be transferred if Ladd plays in at least one game in 2022-23.
Interestingly, Amber notes that Ladd is indeed expected to play for Arizona. The 35-year-old played in just four games this season and 26 last season, spending most of both campaigns with his $5.5MM cap hit buried in the AHL. Ladd has not played at a high level since before signing with New York in 2016, but the Coyotes need his veteran leadership and will give him the opportunity to return to form this year. He has two years remaining on his contract; Arizona hopes that in that time they can see some semblance of the former perennial 20-goal scorer.
This trade, while a high price to pay for the Islanders, is yet another major cost-saving move by the team following the trade of Nick Leddy earlier this week. New York was facing a difficult salary cap crunch this off-season, but have now freed up more than enough room to re-sign the likes of Adam Pelech, Anthony Beauvillier, and Ilya Sorokin. Without their own first- or second-round picks this year, it may seem like dealing three additional selections away in order to move Ladd was too much. However, adding a second-round pick for Leddy and two second-rounders (now down to one) for Devon Toews last summer, the Islanders had some flexibility without damaging the pipeline too badly. It beats the alternative, which likely would have been an expensive buyout for Ladd which still would have resulted in cap issues.