After seven seasons, the Islanders’ Nick Leddy era is over.
The team traded its longtime defenseman to the Red Wings on Friday, receiving forward Richard Panik and a second-round pick (No. 52) in the 2021 NHL Draft.
Leddy, coming off a strong postseason, was expected to be made available in the upcoming Seattle Kraken expansion draft. The veteran blueliner has one season remaining on his seven-year, $38.5 million deal at a $5.5 million cap hit.
The trade — which includes Detroit paying half of Panik’s $2.75 million salary for the next two seasons — frees up $4.125 million in cap space for the cash-strapped Islanders, who have no shortage of players awaiting new contracts for next season.
Six Islanders veterans are pending free agents, headlined by forward Casey Cizikas and winger Kyle Palmieri, with decisions also to be made on other former Devils Travis Zajac, Andy Greene and Cory Schneider, plus Brayden Coburn. Forwards Michael Dal Colle and Anthony Beauvillier are restricted free agents, as are defenseman Adam Pelech and goalie Ilya Sorokin.
With Leddy out of the picture, the Islanders are expected to protect blueliners Pelech, Ryan Pulock, and Scott Mayfield in the July 21 expansion draft. Teams’ lists are due Saturday.
Panik, who was dealt to the Wings by the Capitals at the trade deadline, likely will slot into a middle-six role on the Island. The 30-year-old will be joining his sixth NHL team since entering the league in 2012-13. He posted four goals and 13 points with Detroit and Washington last season.