Andrew Ladd’s tenure with the New York Islanders has been one to forget so far. Filled with injuries, unfortunate setbacks, and an albatross of a contract, there’s been very little positive to speak of.
But the 34-year-old has another chance to redeem himself, this time in the postseason.
The Islanders are set to open training camp this Monday in preparation for their qualifying round matchup against the Panthers — which is expected to begin early next month — and Ladd will be back with the team after spending his the last few months quarantining back home in British Columbia.
Ladd’s already been on Long Island since last week, and he’s created a bit of a stir with his workout videos hyping up his return and showing he looks poised to have an impact these next few weeks and hopefully months.
This year was once again another throwaway season for the Maple Ridge, BC native. Ladd dealt with a knee injury lingering on from the previous year heading into training camp which derailed any chance of him making the opening night roster. He was placed on waivers in mid-November having not played a game all season and the organization sent him down to AHL Bridgeport after he wasn’t claimed for more rehab and conditioning. Finally recalled just before Christmas, only to be sent back down to the minors, Ladd didn’t make his return to the Isles until late February.
Ladd only appeared in four games before the coronavirus pandemic shut down the season and did score his first goal of the year in the Isles’ final game before the break in a 5-4 shootout loss to Vancouver. Still, even in that short stint, he looked at full strength.
And ff those last few games were any indication of what Ladd might have had up his sleeve, then he’ll be sure not to leave a shot in the postseason for chance.
Even with two Stanley Cups rings and over 40-plus postseason games under his belt, he hasn’t played in the playoffs since 2016. You would think that should be all the motivation Ladd needs right? Think again. Add on the fact he was absent when the Isles swept the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round last spring — Ladd suffered a torn ACL in March 2019 — and there’s even more incentive for him to be a difference-maker when the qualifying round begins.
— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) July 7, 2020
The Islanders can also really benefit from a re-invigorated Ladd.
Head coach Barry Trotz will be looking for more production out of his top-six forwards outside of Mathew Barzal, Anders Lee, and Jordan Eberle. That’s something Ladd can help provide while also taking the pressure of those three guys. His size and ability add some extra oomph to the wing. The Isles struggled all year with getting consistency from their top wingers. Ladd’s gritty style, in addition would help bring some extra toughness for those postseason games that are a drain on the body. Thus we can’t forget to also mention his veteran leadership which teams — especially ones like the Isles — could always do more with come crunch time.
Getting to play in the Stanley Cup Playoffs is a privilege. For Ladd, this might truly be his last chance before certain decisions will have to be made regarding his possible future with the organization.
Right now though, his mind and body seem ready for whatever the postseason entails.
And that shows he’s poised to finally make the most of the opportunity that’s being given to him.