Didn't cost him too much. Net loss of a conditional 2nd and 3rd to clear up 11 mil. That's a lot less than I would have expected.
let's take a look at the list of scenarios under which Lou could have gotten rid of Ladd's contract, in order of desirability:
1) trade Ladd to the Coyotes, get draft picks back
2) trade Ladd to the Coyotes, get no draft picks back
3) trade Ladd to the Coyotes and sweeten the deal with draft picks, get draft picks back
4) trade Ladd to the Coyotes and sweeten the deal with draft picks, get no draft picks back
5) buy out Ladd
1) didn't happen because Ladd has no trade value. 2) didn't happen because Ladd's contract is too onerous for that, and he isn't just some AHL tweener schmuck. you'd think 3) would have been the idea, but, apparently, it didn't happen. 4) is what actually happened, and, well, 5) is a terrible option for Ladd's contract.
sure, Lou didn't burn a 1st-round pick (and i doubt Bill Armstrong would've gotten a 1st out of Lou, anyway), but asset management 101 says "having to burn extra assets to rid yourself of a toxic one is a bad situation to find yourself in." you can see that what happened was next to the worst-case scenario for dumping Ladd's contract. this is a Pyrrhic victory, at best, for the Islanders. "draft picks are magic beans" blah blah blah that's the sunk cost fallacy; Lou still burned three picks
to get rid of Ladd's contract.