Andrew Ladd Is Coming Home To Chicago: Trade Review
Imagine the arrogance, the wonderful arrogance, of a man that has three Cups already, wants four, and says “let’s roll the dice”. For the second year in a row Stan Bowman has been a major player at the NHL trade deadline. The Blackhawks have a hole at Left Wing all year long, and Stan Bowman brought back an old friend to fill that void. Andrew Ladd is exactly what the Hawks need. There’s a lot of people saying that the Blackhawks over-paid for Ladd. Those people can shut up. This is how I live my life, so I love it. Worry about tomorrow, tomorrow. The Hawks have a great chance to win the Cup right now. Anytime you have a legitimate chance to win the Stanley Cup, you have to go for it. That’s exactly what Stan Bowman did. He paid the standard premium rental price and he got the guy he wanted most.
That price: Marko Dano and a 2016 1st round pick. Look it, I’m sure Marko Dano is going to be a fine player someday. Probably a top 6 winger in the NHL for a decade. But, he’s not that right now. He’s not even really a top flight winger in the AHL. In 34 games with Rockford this year, Dano has a grand total of 4 goals. So again, he’s a talented kid and he will be a nice piece for Winnipeg in years to come, but he can’t help the Blackhawks right now. I’ll always remember that one great highlight he had last year for Columbus that made me able to stomach the Brandon Saad trade a little more easily.
Here’s the thing about the 1st round pick…they aren’t as valuable to the Blackhawks as they are to other teams. That’s just a fact. 1) they’re always going to be at the very end of the first round. They aren’t trading away a pick that’s going to turn into Austen Matthews. 2) When teams pick in the 1st round, they’re hoping to find a guy that will someday play in their top 6 or their top 4 on D. Well guess what, the Blackhawks have the majority of those spots locked up for the forseeable future. When you have Toews, Kane, Hossa, Anisimov, Panarin, Keith, Seabrook, and Hjalmarsson all under contract, you just need to worry about filling out the team around them. You can do that through drafting and developing later round picks, through free agency, and through trades, as we saw last night. Also, by all accounts, the Blackhawks still have a pretty strong prospect pool. Definitely in the top half of the league. We’ve already seen the bottom 6 supplemented by guys like Rasmussen, Danault, Turbo, and Hinostroza. Nick Schmatltz is one of the best players in all of college hockey and put on a show at the WJC for USA. They also have Forsling and Ville Pokka on defense. The cupboard isn’t bare by any stretch. The Blackhawks have their stars, and they’ve proven they can scout, draft, and develop the rest of the roster in later rounds. The Blackhawks are in win now mode. If they have to give up their rights to pick an 18 year-old that MIGHT help them in 3-4 years, then so be it.
Andrew Ladd is exactly what this team needs. I recently said that I was off of the “trade for Ladd train”, but that was mostly because I didn’t think they Hawks would be able to add another defenseman if they got Ladd because his cap hit was too much. With Winnipeg retaining 36% of Ladd’s money, the Blackhawks are in position to trade for another piece. I wasn’t sure if adding Ladd and nothing else was better than adding a Dale Weise AND a defenseman, but now that point is moot because the Hawks still have about $1.5M to play with.
Ladd has really grown as a player since leaving Chicago after winning the Cup in 2010. He was a depth forward back in 2010. Bottom 6 guy. Now he is a legitimate top 6 winger. You can pencil him in for about 25 goals, and that was playing on teams without real playmakers. Ladd plays a lot of 5 on 5, he kills penalties, he gets powerplay minutes. He can do whatever the Blackhawks need him to. The concerns about the Blackhawks heading into the playoffs were their size, and their ability to get secondary scoring outside of the Panarin-Anisimov-Kane line. Ladd addresses both of those concerns up front. He likely slide right on to the top line with Toews and Hossa. He is a guy that isn’t shy about getting to the front of the net. Ladd will get those ugly goals in the playoffs that make the difference in a tight game. The Blackhawks desperately needed help at LW, and now Ladd allows the rest of the lineup to be properly slotted. Shaw can go down to the 3rd line, Desjardins to the fourth, and Sekac or Panik or Mashinter can go to the press box or Rockford. Ladd is also just another strong voice in the locker room. A veteran. A guy who has won two Stanley Cups. I do think the Blackhawks, on some level, miss Patrick Sharp’s leadership. Hopefully Ladd can add to an already strong leadership group.
Who knows how Coach Q will cobble together the bottom 6 come playoff time, but the lines look MUCH better today than they did on Wednesday. My best guess for playoff lines.
This group is good enough to repeat right now, but I would be shocked if Stan doesn’t add another defenseman at the deadline. Dynasty reign.