August 26 2014 09:08PM
The man who wears his heart on his sleeve also wears the big capital "C" on his jersey. Andrew Ladd has been a warrior throughout his NHL career, and he has become a great leader over the years and continues to be a great leader on the struggling Jets team.
Part of Rick Dudley's short tenure as the Atlanta Thrashers GM saw him acquire two studs from the Chicago Blackhawks, with Andrew Ladd being one of them and Dustin Byfuglien the other. Ladd was acquired following the Blackhawks 2010 Stanley Cup victory that saw the tough winger score 38 points in a supporting role for a blue-chip prospect in Ivan Vishnevskiy (0 NHL games to date) and a 2nd round pick.
Ladd went on to prove his draft pedigree was no joke and that he could score in his first season with his new franchise. Today, Ladd is the captain of the Winnipeg Jets, and there's no reason to believe he won't be sticking around for a while.
Ladd has normally been a solid bet to produce between the 50-60 point mark since joining the Jets/Thrashers, but the NHL's shortened lockout season had some wondering if Ladd's ceiling was too low.
His 46 points in 48 games was enough to have even the biggest skeptic believe Ladd had more to offer. He bounced back to reality and scored at a more known consistent rate to kill the believers.
Even if Ladd isn't scoring big time, he is still arguably the most important player on the Jets, and he always gives his all. He's a very strong possession player, and he seems to thrive playing with Bryan Little.
Guys like Ladd win championships, and he has a ring to prove it (Two rings actually, as he beat my Edmonton Oilers in 2006….by taking out Roloson….I still cry about it everyday….It's odd that I love this player). As long as Ladd is with the Jets, the team will still have a slight fighting chance to be a playoff team, but we all know the supporting cast has to improve before we can guarantee anything.
Andrew Ladd is one of those "you know what you're getting" kind of fantasy hockey players. If you're picking in the 12th round and he's available, snipe him up. Ladd is a sure thing to score the modest 50 points and leave you satisfied.
Ladd's 22 goals were a step backward for the gritty captain, so expect that number to be closer to, but not quite at, 30. They say somebody's gotta score, even on a bad team, so Ladd should see his ice time stay where it has been in the past few seasons, and he'll flirt with 60 points, but he won't ever post lockout numbers.
Ladd is still under contract for the next two seasons at a very reasonable $4.5 million per year according to NhlNumbers, and if regardless if he's a Jet beyond those years, he'll be looking to cash in on likely his last long-term deal.
I'm predicting a bold 59 points for the captain, scoring 27 goals and 32 assists to be in the top five in team scoring.
1. Can Ladd lead the team to the playoffs?
As much as I think the Jets are headed for the cellar, I have to say yes on this one. Ladd is a heart-and-soul kind of player, and those guys can make the utmost surprising things happen. Remember Messier declaring the Rangers would win game 6, and he backed it up with a hat trick en route to the Rangers 1994 Stanley Cup Championship? Hell I remember that and I was only four-years-old. Well, I can see Ladd declaring the Jets make the playoffs as he leads the way. Just saying.
2. Can Ladd be a point-per-game player?
As mentioned earlier, Ladd scored a surprising 46 points in the 48-game lockout shortened season. I also mentioned that Ladd is likely not to surpass that season in terms of point-per-game production. He is a hard-working player who definitely has skill, but unless Evander Kane is dealt for a centre (hello Ryan O’Reilly) I don’t see Ladd making it near those totals again.
3. Will Ladd be a Jet for the remainder of his career?
While Ladd is still under contract for the next two seasons, it’s not out of the question that his possible departure is in the minds of Jet fans. Ladd has called Winnipeg home for the past three seasons, and while he is a model NHLer, it’s possible he wants to explore other options. One good thing about Ladd is that he already has his Stanley Cup rings, so if the Jets can’t win him another one, he can still be content. It also helps that he’s (I may emulate Don Cherry) a good Canadian boy who loves playing in a good ol’ Canadian market. Beauty!