Islanders sign Ladd, Chimera; lose Nielsen, Okposo
NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Islanders moved quickly at the start of NHL free agency, signing forwards Andrew Ladd and Jason Chimera but losing longtime stars Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo.
Ladd agreed to a seven-year, $38.5 million contract Friday, and Chimera comes to New York on a two-year, $4.5 million deal.
Nielsen signed for six years with Detroit. Okposo is headed to Buffalo on a seven-year contract. Matt Martin signed a four-year deal with Toronto.
Ladd totaled 25 goals and 21 assists last season in 78 games for Winnipeg and Chicago. The 31-year-old left wing was dealt to the Blackhawks at the trade deadline. He had eight goals and four goals in their playoff push, and one goal and one assist in Chicago’s first-round loss to St. Louis. He has 210 goals and 256 assists in 12 seasons.
Though New York is losing some of its key players, Ladd believes the team is still headed in the right direction.
“I think any team with John Tavares on it and the goaltending and the defense that the Islanders have, they’re very close,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the challenge of helping this team get to the next level and that’s the Stanley Cup.”
Both Ladd and Chimera have ties to Islanders’ assistant coach and assistant general manager Doug Weight. As a rookie in 2005-06, Ladd played with Weight on Carolina’s Stanley Cup winner. Chimera came up with Edmonton and made his NHL debut with the Oilers in 2000-01 — Weight’s last season there.
Ladd, who also won the Cup with Chicago in 2010, was given a tour of Long Island by the Islanders on Thursday and came away impressed.
“As a visiting player you don’t get a great idea of what Long Island is and what there is to Long Island,” he said. “Obviously the new practice facility that they have now, those are all things I had never seen before. Just to see what they’re doing there was pretty cool and then seeing the surrounding areas. It’s a beautiful area and a great place for a guy with the family.”
The 37-year-old Chimera had 20 goals and 20 assists for Presidents’ Trophy-winning Washington during the season and a goal and an assist in 12 playoff games. He has 163 goals and 206 assists over 15 seasons.
“I’m pretty motivated to win, that’s all I really care about,” he said. “I wanted to get on a team that had a chance to win and I felt the Islanders have the best shot at that.”
The Islanders are coming off a successful first season in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center after spending the franchise’s first 43 years at Long Island’s Nassau Coliseum. They overcame injuries down the stretch to earn a playoff berth for the second straight year, and third in the past four, while reaching the 100-point mark in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1982. New York then beat Florida to win a postseason series for the first time since 1993 before losing to Tampa Bay in five games in the second round.
“You see the way they play every night out,” Chimera said. “I just like the makeup of their team. They’re knocking on the door every year and hopefully I can get them over that hump.”
He also looked forward to playing with his fellow newcomer.
“Having his competitiveness and just what he brings to the rink every day, he’s a great leader in his own right,” Chimera said of Ladd. “When you add a guy like that with skill and grit it makes your team that much better.”
Chimera said he wasn’t concerned with the Islanders’ routine of practicing on Long Island and playing games in Brooklyn.
“I talked to (Islanders defenseman) Johnny Boychuk about it ... and he really had nothing bad to say,” Chimera said. “You’re playing hockey for a living so it’s not the worst thing in the world to have different scenarios. ... Whatever setup you have in the NHL is pretty damn good.”
The Islanders also re-signed forward Shane Prince, acquired at the trade deadline, to a two-year deal.
The first day of free agency also marked the first day of the Islanders’ new ownership structure, with Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin taking over the majority stake in the team under a deal agreed to in 2014. Charles Wang, who bought the team in 2000, retains a minority stake.
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