NHL Free Agency: Is There a Case for Andrew Ladd in Dallas?
Will the Stars try to sign the former Jets captain and current Blackhawks LW? Should they?
The Chicago Blackhawks are in cap hell – again, as usual – and this year have much less to show for it than they'd like. In this straitened environment, whither Andrew Ladd? Should the Dallas Stars try to scoop him up?
The Blackhawks traded for the veteran winger's expiring contract at the leap-year TDL to shore up the team's ultimately doomed effort at back-to-back Stanley Cups. And the Hawks' most recent sacrificial trade – throwing in future core player Teuvo Teravainen to get the Carolina Hurricanes to take Bryan Bickell – demonstrates how much interest Chicago is still paying on three Stanley Cups in six years.
The $4 million in cap space recovered from Bickell's bad contract may just allow the Hawks to re-sign Andrew Shaw (and never mind that even Hawks fans think Shaw is being overvalued in these dealings). Ladd said a couple of weeks ago that Chicago's salary squeeze made a new contract for himself all but impossible.
The 30-year-old from Maple Ridge, B.C. is a left-shot left wing. At 6-3 and 205 pounds, he plays as big as his size and is especially effective on the penalty kill. As captain of the Winnipeg Jets, his veteran savvy and career-high 62 points led the team to a surprise 2015 playoffs berth in the doom-fraught Murder Death Kill division. He's a consistent if not elite scorer, and his net-front presence on the Jason Spezza line could give the Stars a pick-your-poison top six that's the stuff of nightmares for opposing coaches and defenders.
Laddy is also ranked among 2016's top 15 unrestricted free agents, and therein lies the biggest obstacle to a deal with the Stars. The two-time Cup winner is looking for the payday he's earned – six years and $41 million, according to a December report in the Winnipeg Free Press. The Florida Panthers were in on Ladd back in February and have more than enough cap space to make a move when Ladd hits free agency.
The Stars would certainly have to think twice (and then forget it) about throwing that much money at the forward corps, unless they're really counting on the blueline youth to deliver playoffs-caliber service at RFA prices. Then again, Ladd says his biggest priority is to sign with a winning team, and the Stars would certainly give him that opportunity.
Is Ladd worth the gamble? Don't be shy – share your opinion.