It was no surprise the New York Islanders offseason would feature several moves to attempt to clear cap space. Now the first domino has fallen, and it’s come at the expense of Nick Leddy.
On Friday evening, the Islanders dealt Leddy to the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for forward Richard Panik (50% retained, 1.375-million cap hit) and a second-round pick (52nd overall) in the upcoming 2021 Entry Draft (originally owned by the Edmonton Oilers). There’s a lot to unpack in this trade, so let’s start out with the obvious: this move now frees up a ton of cap space for New York. After the trade, the Islanders are sitting at just over 8.5 million in cap space (according to CapFriendly). This move also alleviates the Islanders one less headache of having to decide which defensemen they would protect in the expansion draft. Many analysts and fans alike saw the Isles going the seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender route, protecting Adam Pelech, Ryan Pulock and Scott Mayfield as their three blueliners.
So what are the Islanders getting back in this deal? Let’s start out with Richard Panik, a veteran winger who’s bounced around the league a bit over his nine-year career. Panik, who has two years left on his current contract, was dealt to Detroit in the Jakub Vrana/ Anthony Mantha trade with the Washington Capitals. He put up 13 points in 48 games combined between the Wings and Caps this past season… not bad numbers, although this was a bit of a down year for him. Panik is a solid two-way player that can make an impact on both sides of the puck, but over the course of his career he has gained a reputation as a streaky scorer. Regardless, I see Panik being a good fit on Long Island, and it’s likely he’ll spend a good portion of his tenure as an Islander on the third line alongside Jean-Gabriel Pageau.
In addition, the Islanders also acquired a second-rounder in the upcoming NHL entry draft. That pick now gives the Isles two in the second round this year, in addition to Colorado’s from last off-season’s Devon Toews trade. A second-round pick is a big piece in any trade, let alone acquiring one from a rebuilding team like Detroit who is trying to stockpile their draft selections.
This now puts the Isles in a good spot. If they opt to use the pick, it’ll help replenish the prospect pool after not having a first round pick since 2019. If they don’t use it, however, it gives the Islanders another trade chip to try and clear more cap space. It’ll likely take one (or more) of the Isles’ four second-rounders between this year’s draft and next year’s to move a contract like Leo Komarov, Thomas Hickey or even Andrew Ladd.
At the end of the day, the Islanders got great value out of a defenseman that grew a lot in his seven years on the Island. As the offseason rolls on, Isles fans should appreciate and value everything Leddy has done in his time as an Islander. He definitely had his ups and downs, but Leddy was one of the better puck moving defensemen the Isles have had in a long time. Good luck in Detroit, Nick Leddy.
Follow Carter on Twitter @cbentivenga14