The Islanders will be clearing their Injured Reserve list shortly. Andrew Ladd and Thomas Hickey are on their way and that means they’ll be adding some experience and a bit of scoring to their roster. These additions will be FREE, and we all like FREE.
Let’s take a look at what these two can add to a roster that has the NY Islanders first in the Metro.Embed from Getty Images
Ladd and Hickey Add Depth
Barry Trotz will [most likely] deploy Andrew Ladd and Thomas Hickey as soon as he is able. That will be on Wednesday night against the Calgary Flames. Michael Dal Colle has already been loaned to the Bridgeport Soundtigers. I anticipate Lucas Sbisa being waived in an effort to move him to Bridgeport as well.
Dal Colle will be an easy recall, and will join Tanner Fritz, Joshua Ho-Sang, and Steve Bernier as forwards with NHL experience in the AHL. He can easily slot into any wing position in an emergency that Tom Kuhnhackl or Ross Johnston can’t fill.
Hickey will allow Trotz to have Adam Pelech as their seventh defenseman. Adam has played really well of late, and is by far their best 7th guy this late in the season in decades. Sbisa, if not picked up off waivers, will join Sebastian Aho and Seth Helgeson as AHL defensemen with NHL experience.
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Both players definitely fit the Lou’s Burger Barn menu.
Ladd: Looking Out for Number One
I see the two best fits for Ladd either with Barzal or Filppula. He has some chemistry with Mat Barzal and could be the “finisher” that line needs. He would be replacing Kuhnhackl in that role. Kuhnhackl would likely become the 13th forward, or at least share that role with Anthony Beauvillier for a while. Beau adds some creativity to that line, but Kuhnhackl adds defensive acumen and another penalty killer to the roster.
If they use Ladd with Flippula and Komarov it makes a few things possible. As I alluded to in a previous post, they could create the BrockLeeBar line which would give Barzal the best pair of finishers he’s been with as an Islander. That leaves a line with Bailey between Beauvillier or Ladd and Eberle. Bailey has assumed most of the center responsibilities (defense and face-offs) from Barzal anyway, and the line would have Beau and Eberle to share the puck moving responsibilities. If Beau falters in that role you could swap him for Ladd. The key is having a true number one line to create offense 5v5.
Hickey: Everything is Better with Bacon
Over the past two years we’ve seen both Ryan Pulock and Scott Mayfield enjoy greatly improved numbers when paired with Thomas Hickey. Either pairing at this juncture could be an improvement over the current roster alignment.
Don’t worry. Devon Toews isn’t going anywhere. If Hickey was to be paired with Mayfield it would allow Toews to be moved up with Pulock. Seeing how Toews has reacted to his promotion from the AHL makes me feel comfortable that he would handle the TOI upgrade with little downside. Toews is a more confident puck mover than Pelech and that should allow Pulock more time and space to get off that incredible shot. He also has a solid shot that finds the net more often than not. Having those two on the ice at the same time will also make any forward line more dangerous.
If they opt for the conservative approach you will see Hickey back with Pulock. The other two pairing will remain the same. Hickey will replace Pelech on the PK. The PK has evolved some since Hickey has been out. It will remain to be seen if Hickey can make the current kill better, or if it was Pelech’s evolution that made it better. I don’t mind this in the least, but I would really like to see Pulock with Toews at 5v5 before the playoffs start.
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The Price is Right
This is the best part. They are both eligible to be added to the 23 before the trade deadline. If Lou decides to bring in a big name it makes guys like Pelech, Aho, Dal Colle and Ho-Sang more “expendable”. The bigger issue would be roster spots. That bridge[port] could be crossed with guys like Johnston or Kuhnhackl when we come to it.
The Next Step
Lou has a few days to ponder the cost of adding to the roster. This should settle some of his concerns about additional scoring or defensive depth. He needs to focus his attention on pending UFA’s. There are a few elephants in the room, and we’ll be talking about them soon.