There’s nothing like a deadline to spur action amongst the NHL’s General Managers. Saturday at three o’clock eastern time, the NHL’s trade freeze went into effect as part of the Expansion Draft process. And then, each team — sans Vegas — submitted its protection lists to The League by five o’clock.
Throughout the craziness that ensued, the Islanders and Rangers each made a pair of moves that will have short and long-term effects for the clubs.
Friday night, the Islanders shipped defenseman Nick Leddy to the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for forward Richard Panik and a 2021 second-round draft pick. In addition, the Red Wings retained 50% of Panik’s salary.
Meanwhile, Saturday afternoon saw the Isles send Andrew Ladd, a 2021 second-round pick, a 2022 second-rounder and a 2023 conditional third-rounder to Arizona for some much needed cap relief. The 2021 pick was originally acquired from Colorado and leaves the Boys from Long Island with a single second-round pick, the one it obtained from the Red Wings.
(NOTE: The condition for the 2023 third-rounder is that Ladd must play at least one game for Arizona during the 2022-23 season).
We knew these types of moves were coming. All the signs were there. With the Isles in a cap crunch and the Expansion Draft looming, GM Lou Lamoriello had to act. It’s just a shame it came at the price of Leddy — who was a consummate professional during his seven-year tenure with the Islanders — and so much draft capital. However, it is huge that the Isles were finally able to get Ladd’s deal off the books.
These trades give us some answers regarding the Isles’ plans while creating some new questions as well. So let’s get into them.
1) CAP SPACE: According to Capfriendly, the Isles have just north of $12.9M in projected cap space following the trades, but that’s with only 17 players on the roster. There’s no doubt that moving out Leddy’s $5.5M hit and Ladd’s $5.5M disaster, while only taking on $1.375M of Panik’s deal helps. However, more is still needed.
2) EXPANSION PROTECTION: With Leddy gone the final of three defense slots goes to Scott Mayfield. It was long rumored that Mayfield would be the choice over Leddy and now it’s official. Mayfield joins Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock in the protected zone while Noah Dobson is exempt. Unfortunately, the trade leaves the Isles without an eligible defenseman to expose.
So, that meant another move was in the offing. And true to form, Lamoriello re-signed Andy Greene to a one-year/$1M deal. Greene will be exposed as he fulfills the Isles eligibility on defense. But that doesn’t preclude Lamoriello from making a side deal with Seattle to not draft Greene. Only Time will tell and soon. What, if anything, Panik’s acquisition does to the protected forward group is unclear.
3) WHO FILLS OUT THE DEFENSE: Now that the Nassaumen have moved on from the swift-skating Leddy, who fills his skates? We know Dobson, Mayfield, Pelech and Pulock are locked into the lineup, but who helps to fill out the rest of the blue line?
Well, it just so happens that Minnesota just bought out defenseman Ryan Suter and while he isn’t the spring chicken he once was, he’s still a very capable second-pair D-man. That’s the role Leddy held and Suter would fill it well.
4) WHO IS RICHARD PANIK: What are the Islanders getting in the 30-year-old Panik? Well, according to Red Wings Radio Color Analyst, Paul Woods, Panik is a “professional” type player. He’s a strong power-forward who plays on the third- or fourth-line and is excellent on the penalty-kill, having made a favorable impression during his brief stay in Detroit.
That description fits the Islanders to a “T.” Depth in the lineup and strong on defense are two staples of a Barry Trotz-Lou Lamoriello team.
As for the Rangers…
The Blueshirts sent a 2022 seventh-round pick to Tampa for the rights to pending unrestricted free agent forward Barclay Goodrow.
Goodrow has been a staple of the Lightning’s bottom-six for the past year-and-a-half while providing some grit to a roster that was overly skilled but lacking in the grey areas. Goodrow is a pending UFA and the Rangers acquired his rights in the hopes of signing him before he hits the market. However, the team is likely to wait until after the Expansion Draft to get a deal done.
Chris Drury, should he get Goodrow at a decent rate, without going out too many years, will have gotten an absolute steal for his roster as he attempts to fulfill Head Coach Gerard Gallant’s wish for the team to be harder to play against. And the penalty-kill should get a boost too.
Meanwhile, the recently re-signed Brett Howden, who was facing possible exposure in the Expansion Draft, was sent to Vegas in exchange for a 2022 fourth-rounder and pending UFA defenseman Nick DeSimone.
The Rangers are not expected to re-sign DeSimone, who will not be a high priority for teams when he hits the market on July 28th.
It is not easy to see Nick Leddy leave, but it’s better to get something for him now than to get nothing for him in the Expansion Draft. Panik may or may not remain with the Islanders — he is signed through the 2022-23 season, but he’s managed to play for five other teams during his nine-year career (Tampa, Toronto, Chicago, Arizona and Washington). Let’s just say he’s well traveled.
As for Ladd, it’s a straight salary dump in order to create cap space for the Isles.
The key to these two deals are: One, the Islanders get some much needed cap space. Two, they get a second-round draft pick (52nd overall), which could be used as part of a deal with Seattle to ensure the Kraken take whichever player Lamoriello wants them to. Or, the Isles could actually use the pick themselves.
And let’s not overlook the Isles now potentially making a run at Gabriel Landeskog, should Colorado’s Captain hit the market after a contract impasse with the Avalanche. A move of this nature would signal the Isles are going all-in on the upcoming season and could very well end with them hoisting the Stanley Cup.
Now, for the Rangers, the Goodrow move makes the team grittier and the Howden deal opens up several possible directions to go in after the Expansion Draft passes.
Either way, this is just the start of what is sure to be a busy couple of weeks for the Islanders and Rangers.