Islanders revamp, looking ahead to 2016 season
Andrew Ladd has gained plenty of frequent flyer miles throughout his career as a professional hockey player. In his first 11 seasons of the NHL, the forward has spent time in numerous cities across North America, including Chicago, Atlanta and Winnipeg. With four different teams on his resumé, Ladd was seeking a steady home to settle down with his family.
He decided the next seven years should be spent in one place: Long Island, with the New York Islanders.
“Me and my wife thought it was a great place to raise a family, and it looks like a good community,” Ladd said at Islanders Media Day last week.
Ladd was the marquee acquisition for the Islanders this offseason, signing a seven-year deal with $38.5 million. Like many of his new teammates, Ladd was optimistic about the Islanders’ chances for the upcoming year.
“I think it’s a younger group that can be very good for a long time,” Ladd said. “Obviously, you add John Tavares in there; he’s one of the top players in the game who’s just entering his prime. To have a chance to play with him is big.”
Ladd isn’t the only journeyman with a lot of miles under his belt coming to Long Island. P.A. Parenteau returns to the Isles after stops in Colorado, Montreal and Toronto. Like Ladd, Parenteau’s decision to join the Islanders was based on the chance for on-ice success and the surrounding area.
“I knew it was a pretty good for me,” Parenteau said. “I’ve had success before in my two years here. It’s a good spot for my family, so it was a no-brainer for me.”
Last season, the Islanders finished their first year at Barclays Center with 45 wins and reaching the Eastern Conference Semifinals for the first time in 23 years. Now, the goal is to advance even farther in their second year in Brooklyn.
“You use the experience and try to push ahead and learn from it,” said defenseman Johnny Boychuk. “We’ve made the playoffs two years in a row now, and obviously you want to get that 3rd year and do better.”
In order to do that, general manager Garth Snow signed Ladd, Parenteau, Jason Chimera and, as of last Wednesday, Dennis Seidenberg to add depth to a young squad. The team is leaning on its young nucleus of Brock Nelson, Ryan Strome and Anders Lee to provide valuable production. But Strome is excited to see what the new guys can bring to the team.
“They’re great,” Strome said. “Ladd is a proven guy, and P.A. has had some success too. He’s very comfortable here, has a lot of skill. I really like the guys we brought in this season.”
While the optimism about the new changes was apparent before the start of training camp, the Islanders aren’t the only team in the Metropolitan Division with lofty expectations for 2016. The Pittsburgh Penguins are the defending Stanley Cup champions. The Washington Capitals won the most games in the NHL during the regular season, but took an early exit in the playoffs. Sharpshooter Taylor Hall heads to the New Jersey Devils to beef up their offense. Despite an improved division, the Islanders aren’t backing down from the challenge.
“They made a lot of moves, but so did we,” said Nelson. “[Ladd and Parenteau] will provide a lot of leadership in some areas. There are no easy nights here, so we got to be on our A-game.”