If you’re looking for intangibles like playoff experience, leadership and grit, Andrew Ladd might be your highest ranked free agent. It doesn’t hurt that the two-time Stanley Cup champion is also a five-time twenty goal scorer and has put up at least 46 points in six straight seasons. The big winger is a work horse, averaging close to twenty minutes a night and playing against the other teams’ top forwards.
Just 30-years old, Ladd has a lot more good hockey left in him and will look to score a big contract this summer. With over 200 career goals, and almost no recent injury history teams won’t be too afraid of giving him a long-term deal to help lead their club. We ranked him at #6 on our Top 50 UFA list.
After a report came out Tuesday morning listing the Islanders, Canadiens, Lightning and Predators as four of the teams pursuing Ladd, many fans started to imagine him as part of their squad. The Maple Ridge, BC native has always been thought of as a leader, wearing the ’C’ for the Winnipeg Jets until his mid-season trade last year.
If the Canadiens are serious, Ladd would become the second former Blackhawk added this offseason as they recently signed Andrew Shaw to a six-year deal after acquiring his rights at the draft. While Montreal currently has Max Pacioretty entrenched as the top line left winger, Ladd could provide a huge upgrade on the second line. Skating alongside Alex Galchenyuk (if Montreal decides he’s still a center) for instance could make a pretty imposing duo for teams to try and control.
The Lightning are an interesting club to hear, as they would presumably be putting all their effort into re-signing top free agent Steven Stamkos. The could possibly be a backup plan for the team if they’re to lose their current captain. As the season wore on Stamkos played more and more on the wing, a spot that Ladd could fill alongside Tyler Johnson.
Despite coming off a somewhat down year, we estimated Ladd’s contract at six years, $37.5MM. That would give him an AAV of $6.25MM, a substantial upgrade over his last deal that paid him $4.4MM per season. Early reports are that the Ladd camp is playing things slowly, waiting for the Stamkos situation to resolve itself before really throwing himself to the wolves.
As teams miss on the top names of Stamkos, Milan Lucic and Kyle Okposo, some may end up getting into a bidding war for Ladd. Don’t be surprised if you hear potential numbers that break $40MM in regards to Ladd, though whichever team signs him may regret it when he’s a 35-year old. If he brings another Stanley Cup in the meantime, they might just not care that much.