The Four Teams Most Likely to Acquire Andrew Ladd

With a week until the NHL trade deadline, and captain Andrew Ladd still unsigned and seemingly headed for free agency this summer, here’s a look at the NHL teams which make the best trade partners for Kevin Cheveldayoff and the Winnipeg Jets.

Ladd Trade Criteria:

  1. Only considering teams who are likely to make the playoffs (16 current playoff seeds, plus Minnesota)
  2. Targeting teams whose biggest need is for a top-6 winger, (mainly on the left side)
  3. Stanley Cup contenders favoured over mere playoff teams
  4. Teams with attractive prospects or young roster players given further consideration

LaddBut first, here are 9 teams where Ladd probably isn’t headed…

Unlikely Ladd Destinations


The Bruins are currently trying to re-sign winger Loui Eriksson, and are considering trading him if they can’t reach a deal. And given the Bruins’ cap situation, it wouldn’t make much sense for them to give up assets in order to bring in another pending UFA who is even less likely to stay than Eriksson. And for those who might suggest the teams swap Eriksson for Ladd, that makes even less sense for the Jets, who would look for young players, picks, or prospects in exchange for Ladd.


The Avalanche may be looking to add at the deadline, but it’s been rumoured that their priority would be to add pieces on the blueline. Given the extreme weakness on the left-side of their D, that makes a lot more sense than dealing for a left winger, where they already have players like Matt Duchene (LW/C), Gabriel Landeskog, and the recently acquired Shawn Matthias.

Tampa Bay

Like Boston, the Lightning are trying to retain a key player on their current roster – in this case, a much bigger fish in Steven Stamkos. And like Colorado, they are reportedly more interested in adding to the blueline, given the injury to Jason Garrison, and a very poor year thus far from Matt Carle – who makes a staggering $5.5M per season.

New York Islanders

Along the same lines as Boston and Tampa, the Islanders are struggling to retain some key pieces, including soon to be free agents, Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen. They also have a lot of forward depth as it is, so adding a third forward who is probably headed to free agency doesn’t seem like a wise choice.


While it’s hard to believe that the Jets would deal Ladd to their most significant divisional and geographical rival, the Wild also have pretty good depth on left wing, with Zach Parise, Thomas Vanek, and Jason Zucker. The rumour around Minny was that they were very interested in acquiring Ryan Johansen from Columbus, and offered up young defenceman Jonas Brodin, so if the Wild were in the market for something up front, it’s more likely to be a centre.


The Red Wings are a team in transition – you might call it a “competitive rebuild” – as they pass the torch from veterans like Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Kronwall, and Howard, to young players like Larkin, Tatar, DeKeyser, and Mrazek. So while the Wings certainly have lots of prospects of interest to the Jets, like Anthony Mantha, Andreas Athanasiou, and more, the Red Wings have rarely been a team who makes a splash at the deadline, and now would seem like a particularly unlikely time.


While Pittsburgh would probably love to have a winger like Ladd – you could argue that he’s a younger version of Crosby’s running mate, Chris Kunitz – the Penguins have depleted their prospect base and draft selections so much in recent years that it’s hard to believe they have anything to give back in a deadline day deal where the Jets will be looking for young players and picks. Furthermore, the Pens’ bigger need is on the blueline, where they’re rumoured to be intersted in Canucks d-man, Dan Hamhuis.

St. Louis

Aside from being a divisional rival, the Blues have a lot of depth and flexibility up front already, with several players taking a turn at both centre and wing including Steen, Backes, Berglund, and Schwartz, and several other good forwards like Stastny, Brouwer, and Lehtera, the emerging Robby Fabbri, and the incomparable Vladimir Tarasenko. With the recent knee injury to top-pairing d-man, Alex Pietrangelo, one would think the Blues’ priority would be to add depth on the blueline.

San Jose

While the Sharks have been a good team this year, they probably aren’t a true contender like the Western powers of Chicago, Los Angeles, Anaheim, and St. Louis, and thus may not be looking to make a splash at the deadline. Furthermore, Pierre Leburn recently indicated that the Sharks are more interested in adding to their blueline.


Here are 4 spots where Ladd might end up, but which may not end up being the best fits…

Possible Destinations for Ladd:


The Predators feel set on the blueline with the likes of Josi, Weber, Ellis, and Ekholm, and they added a long-coveted first line centre this year when they acquired Ryan Johansen. The main thing the Preds need is help on the wing, especially in the top-6. While they do have a few productive wingers, with James Neal, Filip Forsberg, and Craig Smith, Colin Wilson has had trouble establishing himself as a top-6 winger, and has been a disappointment this season, with just 4 goals in 42 games. Considering that Nashville has the 3rd fewest goals this season from their forward group, Ladd could be quite a nice fit with the Preds. That said, if they don’t feel they are a serious contender this year – and their play thus far suggests that they probably aren’t – they may look to a cheaper option to bolster the top-6, like Jiri Hudler out of Calgary.


With the Panthers’ run to the top of the Atlantic division, and the previous relationship between Ladd and Florida GM, Dale Tallon – who were together in Chicago and won a Stanley Cup in 2010 – many have speculated that Florida is an obvious fit for Ladd. Florida hockey writer, George Richards noted Saturday (on the Illegal Curve hockey show) that he had heard the Panthers had “zero interest” in Ladd as of a month ago, but to add another wrinkle, he mentioned that Tallon was seen watching the Jets play against Tampa on February 18 (a game in which Ladd scored 2 goals, plus another in the shootout), and speculated that things may have changed. Of course, at this point it’s all just that – speculation. Considering the Panthers’ sudden rise, it may be that GM Tallon doesn’t see his club as a serious Stanley Cup contender just yet – at least not to the point where it makes sense to remove a piece of the future for a rental player. Now, if in trade talks, they were able to speak to Ladd’s agent and gauge his interest in signing long-term, that could certainly change their interest level.

Los Angeles

With the recent injury to top-6 left winger Marian Gaborik, some have speculated that LA would be a good fit for Ladd. While Ladd would certainly give them another finisher to play with either Anze Kopitar, or former World Junior linemate, Jeff Carter, their depth on left wing remains strong, with Milan Lucic, Tanner Pearson, and Dwight King. Furthermore, after waiving defenceman Christian Ehrhoff, who is a shadow his former self, the Kings’ may be looking more for help on defence. All that said, for a legitimate Stanley Cup contender like LA, they can probably justify adding quality players regardless of the position, and they certainly have a history of making big deals at the deadline, including Jeff Carter in time for their first Cup in 2012, and Marian Gaborik for their second Cup in 2014.

New York Rangers

The Rangers lost two important wingers from last year’s top-9 – Martin St. Louis and Carl Hagelin – and while they’ve seen a break-out season from 22-year-old J.T Miller, they’re getting less production than they expected from some other young players in Chris Kreider and Kevin Hayes. It’s been rumoured that the Rangers are looking for some size and skill up front, with some speculating on Carolina Hurricanes captain, and pending free agent, Eric Staal. But with Staal’s cap hit of $8.25M, and the Rangers with virtually no cap space, it might make more sense for them to look at a cheaper option like Ladd, who would also bring size, experience, and finishing ability. From the Jets’ perspective, the Rangers don’t have a lot of young talent outside of their NHL roster, and it’s hard to see the New York giving up any of their big young forwards like Miller, Kreider, or Hayes for a rental player, so while there may be interest from the Rangers, there also may not be a great fit here.


Here are the 4 teams which may be the most suited to acquiring Ladd, (need on LW, contender status, good young assets)…

Most Likely Ladd Destinations:


The Stars certainly have the top-end skill, with a top-6 that includes the likes of Benn, Seguin, Spezza, and Sharp, and other nice top-9 options like Eakin, Nichushkin, Hemsky, and the surprising rookie, Mattias Janmark. If you were to throw in an excellent complementary scorer like Andrew Ladd, which NHL team would be more dangerous up front? Playing with high-end playmakers like Seguin or Spezza would maximize what Ladd offers, namely, skill, smarts, and finishing ability around the net. The Stars also have several young blueliners in their system who might be of interest to the Jets, most notably, Julius Honka and Esa Lindell. Stars’ GM Jim Nill has also shown a desire to make big moves, acquiring Seguin, Spezza, and Sharp in back-to-back-to-back summers from 2013-2015. The biggest question is whether the Stars are willing to meet the Jets’ asking price, when they might instead prefer to save their young assets to address the more pressing need they have on the blueline.


Could Ladd put Washington over the top, and help them win their Stanley Cup in franchise history? The Caps are certainly the Eastern Conference favourite to make the finals, but assuming they do get there, it’ll be no easy task beating the beasts of the Western Conference. In Ladd, you get a two-time Stanley Cup winner who has scored 138 goals in the past 5.5 seasons, and has averaged 26 goals (per 82 games) over the past 427 games. While the Caps have some high-end talent in Ovechkin, Backstrom, and emerging star Evegeny Kuznetsov, as well as other skilled forwards like Jason Williams and T.J Oshie. The last member of their regular top-6 is C/LW Marcus Johansson – a good, young player, who’s having a strong season, with 34 points in 50 games; the issue is that Johansson has managed just 3 goals in his last 35 playoff games. Who better to round out their top-6 than Ladd, a left winger who could slide onto a line with Kuzetnsov and Williams? Furthermore, the Caps have a few prospects who might be of interest to the Jets, particularly defender Madison Bowey – a Winnipegger who played with Josh Morrissey at last year’s World Juniors, and also in Kelowna of the WHL. All that said, the Caps might feel that they already have the right mix now, in which case they’d simply look to add a bit of depth in case of injuries, rather than make a big change by bringing in Ladd.


Looking to add a winger – check. It’s been widely reported the Hawks’ are looking to add a left-winger to play with Jonathan Toews.

Cup contender – check. The Hawks have won two of the last three Stanley Cups, and have been at or near the top of the Western Conference standings for most of the season.

Of course, it also doesn’t hurt that Ladd played in Chicago during their 2010 cup win – the organization is very familiar with him. The only question here is, given the Hawks’ extreme cap crunch next year, are they willing to part with enough young assets for what is almost surely a rental player? The Hawks do have a number of decent prospects – AHL players like Marko Dano, Ryan Hartman, and Ville Pokka all have some potential, though none of them have exceeded expectations in their second pro seasons. Their best prospect is likely Nick Schmaltz – a centre who has 29 points in 25 games at the University of North Dakota. Another interesting option is centre Tyler Motte, who plays with Jets’ prospect Kyle Connor at  the University of Michigan, and has scored 28 goals in 28 games. If the Hawks were willing to part with one of these players, along with at least a second round pick, I’m sure the Jets would listen, however, the Hawks don’t have a 2nd round pick in 2016, and who knows if the Hawks are willing to give up another first round pick, given the overpay they made at last year’s deadline for Antoine Vermette.


All of this brings us to Anaheim. A bonafide cup contender prior to the season, we all know about the Ducks’ struggles early in the year, and yet, the Ducks now sit right behind the LA Kings for 1st place in the Pacific. Could they use a top-6 winger? You bet. While the acquisition of David Perron has been a huge boost, the off-season losses of Matt Beleskey and Kyle Palmieri hurt their secondary scoring a lot more than anticipated, especially given that Jakob Silfverberg has been a gigantic disappointment, and Andrew Cogliano and Chris Stewart have struggled to provide regular offence. Ladd’s history playing with Ryan Getzlaf, both in the WHL, and at the World Junior Championships would seem to make this a nice fit for Anaheim. Furthermore, the Ducks are absolutely loaded with young defenceman on the NHL roster – Fowler, Lindholm, Vatanen, Despres – so they might feel that they can afford to shed a young d-man who has yet to crack the NHL lineup. Given that defence happens to be the only weakness on the Jets’ current list of prospects, there may be a fit here for both teams. While Shea Theodore is probably untouchable in this scenario, another skilled defenceman named Brandon Montour has come up in trade rumours. Furthermore, if a deal were to happen, Anaheim might be able to rearrange some cap space in order to re-sign Ladd, should be be interested in staying. Given Anaheim’s struggles to score for much of this season – they’re the lowest scoring team currently sitting in a playoff spot – and all of the other reasons already stated, Anaheim makes the most sense, at least on paper…

Nic Petan: Can a Prospect be too “NHL-Ready”?


When Claude Giroux came out of the Quebec Major Junior League in 2008, it was clear to all that he was a high-end talent. Not only was he coming off three straight 100-point seasons, and a strong showing with Canada’s gold medal winning World Junior Championship squad, but he utterly dominated the QMJHL playoffs, leading the league in scoring with 51 points in just 19 games. Based on that resume, it would have been incredibly easy for the Flyers to put the 20-year-oldin the NHL in the fall of 2008, and yet, they resisted the urge – partly because Giroux was just 5’11, and around 170 lbs. Instead, they sent him to the AHL’s Philadelphia Phantoms, where Giroux spent just 33 games scoring 34 points.

Claude Giroux has since become one of the top forwards in the NHL, and he is one of the league’s leading scorers year after year. In fact, did you know that he’s the NHL’s top scorer since the fall of 2010? While it’s impossible to say what kind of player he would have become had he skipped the AHL, it’s certainly fair to say that spending half a season in the minors didn’t hurt his development.

Following a striking change in organizational philosophy, today’s Toronto Maple Leafs are doing things in a very similar waySpeaking about the organization’s “timeline” for player development, Assistant GM Kyle Dubas said the following:

“…we want the players to master the AHL level and the minor-league level and not bring them up after one good weekend,” he said. “They have to show us they can do all of the things. …Once our guys show they can master [the AHL] consistently, then we’ll have that conversation. That’s up to the players. Never been a hard and fast rule that no one is coming up this year.”

The key phrase there is “master the AHL”; while you could debate what “master” means, I interpret that to mean that a young player should stay in the minors until they prove that they’re too good for that level.

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In an incredibly curious move from this off-season, the Winnipeg Jets opted not to re-sign veteran Lee Stempniak, despite the fact that Stempniak was keenly interested in staying. While it’s doubtful  that anyone considered Stempniak to be part of the Jets’ core moving forward, he was a consistent 15-goal scorer with modest contract demands. In a worst-case scenario, he was good, affordable depth for the organization – a player who could play up and down the lineup, from (at least) the 2nd line, to the 4th line. And while passive observers have the benefit of hindsight, it’s worth noting that he has fit in incredibly well in New Jersey, scoring 12 points in 16 games, while making just $850,000 on a one-year contract. (That would put him third in scoring on the Jets, while putting him 12th in salary among forwards). Most importantly, the decision to let Stempniak go allowed Nic Petan – a 20-year-old rookie who is at most 5’9, 170 lbs. – to make the NHL without playing a single game with the Moose.

Let’s look at the possible reasons why the Jets held a spot open for a youngster, rather than re-signing Stempniak, or a similar player:

(1) Petan might be better

While you can’t analyze players in a vacuum, with 12 points in 16 games this season, and 10 points in 18 games last season with the Jets in a third line role, it’s hard to argue that Petan has has made the Jets better than Stempniak would have, given that he has just 2 points through 14 games. Plus, if he was a key part of the team, he wouldn’t have been scratched 4 times this year.

(2) Petan would be cheaper

Petan will likely will be a bit cheaper than Stempniak this season, but not significantly. While Petan does have a lower base salary than Stempniak, if he were to hit all his bonuses (the clauses of which are unknown), his cap number will actually be slightly higher than Stempniak’s $850,000. Regardless, if Petan ends up making ~$100,000 less, that’s just .14% of the NHL’s $71.4M salary cap.

(3) The Jets already have plenty of organizational depth

Given the Moose’s struggles so far, this is a pretty easy one to address. The Moose currently sit second-last in the AHL, and they don’t have a single forward on the roster who is in the top-100 in league scoring. While that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some good players down there, it’s pretty clear that there’s no one currently banging down the door to get to the NHL.

(4) Petan will develop faster in the NHL than in the AHL

While there’s no iron-clad argument against this, a whole lot of anecdotal evidence would suggest that this isn’t the case. The “plug-and-play” approach – taking undeniably skilled, but very young players, and placing them directly in the NHL – failed miserably for years in places like Long Island in the late 90’s, Florida in the early 2000’s, Columbus in the mid-2000’s, and most recently, Edmonton.  Meanwhile, the “draft and develop” model followed by teams like Tampa Bay, Nashville, and most famously, Detroit, has worked pretty nicely for several years now. Some of that is detailed here, and here. 

If Petan were in the AHL, he’d be playing around 20 minutes per night, quarterbacking the powerplay, likely generating tons of scoring chances, and helping make his young teammates better. And if the Jets ran into injury troubles, or if he simply lit up the league – or “mastered the AHL” – they could call him up at any time. Instead, Petan is averaging 9:22 of ice-time per game, and playing primarily with Andrew Copp and Chris Thorburn – two gritty, hard-working players who don’t have a future as top-6 forwards. Not only is he not being put in a position to succeed – he’d be better complemented by a finisher with some size, like Drew Stafford – outside of the 1:23 per game he averages on the powerplay, he’s not really being given a chance at all.

Scale of the Problem

Taking a step back, is this situation the end of the world? Absolutely not. Nic Petan is a very skilled, intelligent player, and while his development might be better served in the AHL, he can still become a very productive player by following his current path, and a potential replacement for the style and offence of Mathieu Perreault (should he wish to depart when his contract expires at the end of 2017). But the logic behind this series of decisions is a concern, and for Jets fans, it’s something to keep an eye on.

The Future is Bright – Top-20 Jets Prospects

Danish sensation, Nik Ehlers

Nik Ehlers – The Jets’ 1st round pick in 2014


Craig Button – one of the more of the more reputable evaluators of young hockey talent – has said on numerous occasions that the Jets’ prospect pool is the best in the NHL. And bBetween the high-end skill, future #1 goaltenders, and depth at various position, I’m inclined to agree with him. So who are the most promising among them? And where might they fit in down the road? Here’s an update on the Jets crop of young talent.

High-end Talent

Ehlers, Morrissey, Petan

Continue reading

Evander’s Exodus: Kane leaves Winnipeg in Blockbuster Deal

New York Islanders v Winnipeg JetsAfter years of inactivity on the trade market, Kevin Cheveldayoff pulled off the biggest deal the NHL has seen in years. After a week of rampant speculation following “track suit-gate”, Winnipeg dealt Evander Kane – the most controversial figure in Jets 2.0 history. But perhaps a bigger surprise was that long-time Jets-Thrashers d-man, Zach Bogosian, was also included in the deal.

Too often, players get evaluated based on expectations. particularly when it comes to salary and draft position. Kane and Bogosian were each top-5 draft picks who came to Atlanta at the tender age of 18. Each showed enough glimpses of promise in the foregoing years to ‘earn’ large, long-term contracts from the club. And while each player made significant contributions in their time with the franchise, it’s probably fair to say that they failed to live up to the draft-day hype.

However, expectations are a two-way street, because when it comes to trades, NHL players are sort of like stocks; regardless of how the company’s actually performing, if the expectations in the market for that company are good, then the stock price will continue to rise. Similarly, if expectations around the league for a particular player are still high, then that player will still be a significant asset for that club. Given their size, speed, youth, and draft pedigree, Kane and Bogosian were, and are valuable commodities. With that in mind, let’s see how this trade shakes down, and whether the Jets deserve praise or criticism for this move. Continue reading

Ending the Crosby-Toews Debate

crosby+toewsI’ve heard many people suggest that that Jonathan Toews is a better hockey player than Sidney Crosby. Not more talented, perhaps, but they usually start with the premise of “if you could pick one player to build a team around”, “yatta-yatta-yatta…”, it has to be Toews. Continue reading

2014 Jets Training Camp

L-R: Kevin Cheveldayoff, Craig Heisinger, Mark Hillier, Nikolaj Ehlers, Marcel Comeau, Larry Simmons, Paul Maurice, Mark Chipman
L-R: Kevin Cheveldayoff, Craig Heisinger, Mark Hillier, Nikolaj Ehlers, Marcel Comeau, Larry Simmons, Paul Maurice, Mark Chipman

The Winnipeg Jets kick off training camp tomorrow – Thursday, September 18. While it will be exciting to see how the potential young stars stack up against the vets – namely, Nik Ehlers and Josh Morrissey – the battle for roster spots may be less compelling. Continue reading

I Disagree, Mr. Lawless

1st overall pick in 1993, Alexandre Daigle
1st overall pick in 1993, Alexandre Daigle


Gary Lawless recently wrote an article in the Free Press named “Youth Must be Served”. As you might infer from the title, the idea is that the Jets should put some young players in their lineup this fall, because the young guns offer more than some of the veterans who currently fill the bottom of the roster. (Ok, let’s see, young guys, lots of talent, fun to watch – sounds plausible so far). He further justifies the point by saying that the team isn’t very good anyway, so “why not bring in some youth and let them learn on the job”. (Yeah, I guess so…you gotta learn somewhere, right?) Let me tell you why I think it’s a bad idea. Actually, let me show you why I think it’s the worst idea.

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Wings' rookie sensation, Gustav Nyquist
Wings’ rookie sensation, Gustav Nyquist


There are two types of organizations – those who rush their players, and those who don’t. Ken Holland and his group in Detroit are ‘the good guys’. Gustav Nyquist just finished his rookie season with Detroit, where he scored 28 goals in only 57 games. In fact, he was on pace for 40 goals in – let me say it again – his rookie season, had he played in all 82. Interestingly, he was already 24 years old when the season started, and was playing with the poise and maturity that one might expect from a player who had been clawing to get to the NHL for a number of years.

I’m a fervent believer in the Detroit Red Wings model of development – the one in which you actually give players time to develop, until they clearly demonstrate that they’re too good for their previous level, whether it be junior, college, Europe, or the AHL. For the Wings, that usual entails leaving them in junior till age 20 (21 if coming from College or Europe), and then a one or two year stint in the AHL. Most Red Wings don’t make the squad full-time before they’re at least 21, and the last time a teenager played a full season in Detroit was in 1991, when Keith Primeau made the team as a 19-year-old. Nick Lidstrom – almost universally recognized as one of the top-5 defencemen of all-time – didn’t play for Detroit until he was 21. Henrik Zetterberg came over from Sweden at 22, while Pavel Datsyuk didn’t leave Russia till 23. The Red Wings’ current stud defenceman – Nik Kronwall – didn’t make the roster as a full-time NHL’er till he was 24. In the past 20 years, Detroit has absolutely set the standard for player development in the NHL. No other team lets their prospects “ferment” in the minor leagues for as long as Detroit, and perhaps there’s a method to the madness. Continue reading

2014 NHL Free Agency Wrap-Up

Tampa GM Steve Yzerman and his club were one of the big wingers in Free Agency

Tampa GM Steve Yzerman and his club were one of the big winners in Free Agency

The NHL’s Free Agency period is a time where mistakes happen. Teams get overzealous, hoping that a big catch will turn their team’s fortunes. Over the years, the poster child for bad free agent signings has been the New York Rangers, who have shelled out big-money, long-term deals to players like Scott Gomez, Chris Drury, Wade Redden, and Brad Richards. In the end, Gomez was traded, Drury retired before the contract finished, and the other two were bought out.  Continue reading