Additions of Ladd, Hickey could put Isles in excellent position to strike

Nov 19, 2017; Raleigh, NC, USA; New York Islanders forward Andrew Ladd (16) looks on from the players bench against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the New York Islanders 4-2. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Additions of Ladd, Hickey could put Isles in excellent position to strike

Islanders

Additions of Ladd, Hickey could put Isles in excellent position to strike

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If I told you that by the trade deadline your Islanders would be acquiring a veteran two-time Stanley Cup winner with 533 career points, would you be interested?

What if I told you it wouldn’t cost a single asset, would that be better?

In addition to that acquisition, Lucky Lou would bolster his blue line with a veteran defenseman who has averaged over 18 minutes per game during his seven-year tenure and has advanced statistics that prove his team was controlling the puck more often than not with this player on the ice. Would you sign up for that?

Think about it.

Andrew Ladd and Thomas Hickey may not be the flashiest of deadline day additions. But, you would be naive to think the aforementioned two men would not help the Metropolitan-leading, world-shockers in blue and orange.

The pair was called up on Tuesday from their conditioning stint with AHL Bridgeport. Michael Dal Colle was subsequently sent down.

Take Ladd, for example, and place him on the left side of Mat Barzal and Josh Bailey. While Tom Kuhnhackl has been a solid depth signing, Ladd would be an instant upgrade and already has established chemistry with Barzal and Bailey from their days together as a line last season.

Head Coach Barry Trotz has said time and again, he appreciates Kuhnhackl’s “veteran’s strength” in the lineup. While Michael Dal Colle, has done an admirable job, this time of year calls for a veteran presence as a playoff race heats up. Ladd’s entry into the everyday lineup will secure Trotz’s quota of “veteran strength” and provide a better scoring touch compared to Kuhnhackl.

Make no mistake; Ladd is no longer the 50-plus points scorer he was in Winnipeg and Chicago. But, for an Islanders team that has struggled lately to find consistent scoring, his presence would be welcomed.

If we are being honest here, Ladd will benefit tremendously from the playmaking abilities of the young “kid-who-won-the-Calder.” It would work both ways as the two-time Cup champ would be able to share his veteran knowledge and leadership with the 21-year-old, who continues to grow every day.

Earlier last week, the Islanders loaned both Ladd and Hickey to Bridgeport. Ladd hadn’t played in an NHL game since November, Hickey, since December. Both seem like they haven’t missed a beat.

The 33-year-old left-winger has five points in two games (four assists), while the 30-year-old defenseman has four points (two goals) in that same span.

For someone like Hickey, his presence in the locker room cannot be lauded enough. His teammates love him and his professional mindset and attitude is something to learn from if you are a young defenseman like Devon Toews, Ryan Pulock, Scott Mayfield and Adam Pelech.

Trotz will have an excellent problem on his hands when Hickey returns from conditioning. His defense has been one of the league’s strongest, allowing the fewest goals in the league (138).

The young Toews has played incredibly well since he joined the team 24 games ago. With nine points and a plus-nine rating, he has made his case to remain in the lineup when Hickey returns.

Even a player like Pelech, who has had his good and not-so-great moments, has been sturdy in his own end, playing at his highest Corsi For percentage of his career at 49 percent.

These are good problems to have. The Islanders will surely benefit from veterans Ladd and Hickey joining the stretch run.

Think about this for a moment.

Imagine improving an already-strong team without having to give up any young assets that may burn you in the future. Forget about trading Dal Colle, Ho-Sang or Beauvillier. Gaining a Ladd or a Hickey at the deadline instead of trading for a UFA rental and risking he walks is the smart and safe move.

“But, Joe, Matt Duchene is on the block. He is elite. He will put us over the top.”

Yes, I understand that notion. Believe me, I do.

Put things into perspective here. Nobody thought the Islanders would be this good, this soon. It is all gravy right now.

Your team is entering the apex of their playoff window. Worry about Ladd and Hickey for now.

Come summertime, it will be time to go all-in.

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