It was, quite literally, addition by subtraction.
Before the Islanders submitted their list of protected players for Wednesday’s expansion draft for the Seattle Kraken — which will become public on Sunday — they also gained needed salary-cap space by dealing Andrew Ladd to the Coyotes on Saturday along with a second-round pick in next weekend’s NHL entry draft, a conditional second-round pick in 2022 and a conditional third-round pick in 2023.
They also re-signed defenseman Andy Greene to a one-year deal with a cap charge of $750,000. He will fulfill the expansion draft requirement for the Islanders to expose at least one defenseman under contract for next season, allowing them to protect their top-pair of Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech along with Scott Mayfield, who has two seasons remaining on a team-friendly five-year, $7.25 million deal.
The Islanders, somewhat uniquely, received no asset in return from the Coyotes other than the resulting cap space.
But the move was worth it to president and general manager Lou Lamoriello to free the organization of the final two seasons of Ladd’s seven-year, $38.5 million deal. The cost is minimal to the Coyotes, who still have $27 million in cap space per CapFriendly.com, as Ladd is owed just $1 million in salary for next season and $1 million in salary and a $3 million signing bonus in 2022-23.
Still, with Ladd’s $5.5 million cap charge gone, coupled with the deletion of Nick Leddy’s $5.5 million cap charge after the defenseman was traded to the Red Wings on Friday, the Islanders have approximately $12.2 million in cap space under the flat, $81.5 million cap ceiling for 2021-22.
Lamoriello’s offseason priority is new contracts for top restricted free agents Pelech, Anthony Beauvillier and goalie Ilya Sorokin and the trio’s combined new cap hits may approach the $12.2 million the Islanders currently have available. Casey Cizikas and Kyle Palmieri can become unrestricted free agents on July 28.
But the Islanders can exceed the cap ceiling by $6 million if Johnny Boychuk remains on long-term injured reserve.
A freeze on trades and player signings went into effect at 3 p.m. on Saturday and runs through Thursday.
The Islanders sent their own second-round pick this year — No. 60 — to the Coyotes while retaining the 52nd overall pick they acquired along with bottom-six forward Richard Panik for Leddy.
The Coyotes will then receive the better of the Islanders’ two second-round picks in 2022. They will also collect a third-round pick in 2023 if Ladd, who played in just one AHL game last season and just four games for the Islanders in 2019-20 after injuring both knees in 2018-19, plays at least one game for the Coyotes in 2022-23.