General manager Stan Bowman had been talking with Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff for quite some time now. The topic, of course, was Andrew Ladd.
“I talked to Chevy maybe a month ago and mentioned, if he ever gets to the point where he decided maybe he’d move Andrew, that we were definitely a team that wanted to bring him back,” Bowman recalled.
That time became Thursday night.
The Blackhawks acquired Ladd from the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for Marko Dano, a first-round selection in the 2016 NHL draft as well as a conditional pick in the 2018 draft. The Jets will also retain 36 percent of Ladd’s salary, according to several reports. The Blackhawks also acquire forward Matt Fraser and defenseman Jay Harrison, who will report to the Rockford IceHogs.
It’ll be a nice reunion for Ladd, who’s familiar with the Blackhawks remaining from that 2010 Cup run. The Blackhawks gave up a decent package to get Ladd, but they obviously know what they get with him: a proven winner who can play in every situation.
“He brings so much to the table. Just his competitiveness and he’s a very versatile player,” Bowman said. “Obviously he knows how to win; he’s won twice before in Carolina and Chicago. The big thing for us is just the familiarity that he has, not only with our coaching staff but also our players. I think he’s maintained a friendship with a number of our players, and that’s important. He’s a guy you want to go to war with and he knows what it’s like to be here with our group, and we’re really excited.”
Ladd knew the writing was on the wall a few weeks ago when the Jets re-signed Dustin Byfuglien to a long-term deal. There was a chance of Ladd also getting a new deal but Ladd said recently that his representative and the Jets hadn’t talked about that possibility since Christmas.
So now, he gets another chance with a team he knows well.
“Knowing I was probably going to end up being traded, I think Chicago was on the top of my list of places I wanted to be,” Ladd said via conference call on Thursday. “Just the familiarity of the organization and guys already on the team, it just made it an easy transition for me regardless of who I get a chance to play with. You’re going to a team that can win the Cup, and that’s always an exciting prospect for anyone.”
The Blackhawks were looking for a left wing that could play on that top line with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa (who is currently out with a lower-body injury). Andrew Shaw has played there for a while now. But as coach Joel Quenneville said following Thursday’s 3-1 loss to the Nashville Predators, “there’s a real nice spot on that left side with Jonny and Hoss, and looks like he’ll fit in perfectly there.”
Asked about possibly joining Toews and Hossa, Ladd said, “I think I could play a pretty simple style of hockey. I know their games pretty well and they’re obviously great two-way players,” Ladd said. “I should fit in well with that mold: play a solid two-way game, to be able to chip in physically, make some room for them and bring some offense to that table as well.”
According to generalfanager.com, the Blackhawks will have $1.48 million of cap space on deadline day. The trade deadline is 2 p.m. on Monday. Will the Blackhawks make any more moves? Bowman said if there’s something else that helps the Blackhawks, he will look at the options. But with Ladd’s acquisition and Hossa and Marcus Kruger returning from injury on their respective timelines – another week or so for Hossa and the postseason for Kruger – Bowman would be fine leaving things alone, too.
“If it doesn’t change from where we are now, I really like the group we have. It’s a nice mixture,” Bowman said. “We’ve obviously had a good season to date, and when you add in someone like Andrew to the mix and hopefully down the road Marcus Kruger will be back those are two playoff-tested players you add. We’ll see where it goes from here, but I really like the look of our team right now.”
When Ladd gets here is unknown. Bowman said he wasn’t positive on Thursday if Ladd would be here for Sunday morning’s game against the Washington Capitals. Richard Panik, who the Blackhawks acquired Jan. 3, was held up by visa issues and didn’t join the team for more than a week. Whenever Ladd does get here, however, he shouldn’t need much time to adjust to a system and players with whom he’s very familiar.
“The fact that he’s been with our group, our coaches and our core players before and he understands what it takes to win. It made sense to try and give this group a boost. That’s the other part of it, just try to demonstrate that we have a lot of faith in the group we have here,” Bowman said. “We’re excited and we want to do everything we can to put the things in place to make a long run.”