Andrew Ladd needs to provide John Tavares with consistency
The last word you can use to describe John Tavares’ career with the Islanders is consistency. Whether it’s playoff appearances, linemates, or goalies, John Tavares has not had a steady routine in any of his seven years in the NHL. But, the acquisition of Andrew Ladd is expected to provide the star center with that luxury.
John Tavares has always elevated his linemates’ play, but hasn’t been able to hold onto one for a longer period than four years. He and Matt Moulson had good chemistry together, but Moulson was traded early in the season a few years back for Thomas Vanek. The ensuing line of Vanek, Tavares, and Kyle Okposo was arguably the NHL’s best line for a few months, but that came spiraling down when Vanek was traded to Montreal at the 2014 trade deadline. In the interim time between Moulson and Vanek, players like PA Parenteau and Brad Boyes came and left from Tavares’ wing (although Parenteau returned this summer). The two most recent casualties were Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo, both of whom left via free agency to Detroit and Buffalo respectively.
All of this is why Andrew Ladd and his shiny, new seven year contract are important to John Tavares and the Islanders organization alike. He is expected to be the top-line left winger for Tavares for years to come, a luxury Tavares has not had in a while. Ladd, a former captain, is also expected to bring another level of leadership behind Tavares, which is especially important on a team with a core of mainly young players.
If the Islanders make the playoffs again this upcoming season, it would be the first time since a stretch from 2001 to 2004 that they made the playoffs for three consecutive seasons. But, the most important thing this year is that Tavares and Ladd find chemistry. The pair needs to work. Giving John Tavares an elite-caliber linemate for 82 games would elevate his game to heights the league hasn’t seen before. Ladd playing second line behind Tavares, Parenteau, and another player of lower caliber simply cannot happen.
There is no more time to waste. No more asking John Tavares to transform busts back into serviceable NHL players. It’s time for the organization and players alike to pony up and take the next step, and most of that can be achieved through consistency, which Andrew Ladd needs to bring.