Should the Jets extend Ladd or Byfuglien: The case for Andrew Ladd

The Winnipeg Jets have some crucial decisions to make on their future. The outcome from such decisions may not make or break the franchise, but the impact cannot be denied.

The Jets have their two biggest expiring contracts since the franchise move to Winnipeg.

As it currently stands, Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd enter unrestricted free agency and look to receive significant paydays July 1st, 2016. Not only do the Jets have their two biggest names at forward and defence garner raises, but their two biggest young forwards leave their entry level contracts that same summer. Skepticism surrounding the Canadian dollar and its potential impacts just add to the pile.

It’s easy to see why some say the Jets are substantially unlikely to keep both Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien in the long run.

If the Jets had to keep one, which one should it be? We look at the case for choosing Andrew Ladd here.

Organizational Depth

The Jets are well known for their embarrassment of riches on the right side of their blue line.

The combination of Dustin Byfuglien, Jacob Trouba, Tyler Myers, and Paul Postma could go swing-for-swing with any other NHL team’s right-shot defensive depth. While Myers tends to be overrated — if he’s your third best defender, you are doing pretty damn well.

The bulk of the Jets prospect depth also resides on the right side. While none of Jan Kostalek, Brenden Kichton, Jack Glover, Tucker Poolman, Marcus Karlstrom or Nelson Nogier look like instant home runs, there is strength in their sheer quantity.

The loss of Byfuglien would indeed be a step back on the right side; it is however the one place where the Jets could take a hit without much damage.

The Jets left wing depth is another story, although increasingly more complex.

Andrew Ladd is the sole natural left winger the Jets have at the NHL level.

Drew Stafford, Mathieu Perreault, Adam Lowry, Alexander Burmistrov, Matt Halischuk and Chris Thorburn have all spent time on the left side, but tend to play either centre or right wing. Two of these options will have to play left wing –while another at centre– in the Jets top nine, even with Andrew Ladd still on the team.

The Jets are unlikely to fill that position internally any time soon either.

Kyle Connor, who has played both left wing and centre, has elite skill but is a more long term solution as he needs time to develop in the NCAA. Brenden Lemieux has some talent but bounced between the second and third line of a deep CHL team. The other natural left wingers Axel Blomqvist, Erik Foley, C.J. Franklin, and Matt Ustaski are miles away.

There is the possibility of Nik Ehlers, with being a left-handed shot, but Ehlers has almost exclusively been developed as a right winger over the past two years.


For those on the team and in the organization, most intangible evaluations are merely a game in educated guessing. For outsiders like media, bloggers, and fans, it becomes even more cloudy.

We do know though that the team and organization looks up to Ladd’s experience. He has been given the team’s captaincy with reasoning.

There is also the way Ladd plays the game. While Ladd may not be a flashy player, he gets the results due to his skill, hard work, and determination.

Intangibles are named so due their inability to be perceived by senses, and are often hidden as latent variables. However, when one is thought to carry intangibles and also garners positive results, they are usually worth the risk in investing on their intangibles.

Ladd’s intangibles carry value not only in the now, but in maximizing potential future returns as well.

The Jets have one of the league’s better prospect cupboards, with a slew of high end talent in Nik Ehlers, Kyle Connor, Josh Morrissey, Connor Hellebuyck, Nic Petan, and others. The Jets want someone to help their team win now, but also help optimize the potential of others for the future.

Age and Injury Factor

If players never aged, there would be a lot less fear to long term contracts.

Andrew Ladd is nearly a full year younger than Dustin Byfuglien. One year may seem like a marginal distance, but could be the breaking point with term length on either player being a central factor.

In addition, historically Ladd has been significantly more reliable than Dustin Byfuglien with durability. Byfuglien has missed large chunks of the Jets games, while Ladd has barely missed any, and one of which was not for an injury.

Closing Thoughts

The Jets may be stuck with having to choose between Ladd and Byfuglien. If that ends up the case, who should they choose?

The Jets carry a tonne of depth on the right side of their defence at both the NHL level and their prospect cupboard; this is not true at left wing. Andrew Ladd also carries some intangibles that make him coveted for a team that will need to surround their young evolving core with effective veteran leadership. Then there is also Ladd’s extra year and his historical durability. 

These reasons suggest that the Jets should extend Ladd if their hand is forced.

Next time we will look at the case for keeping Dustin Byfuglien.

  • AWheeler

    I would sign both there is cap room for it. Ladd has brilliant hockey intelligence, he get’s the results required of a first liner and captain, and he has the maturity to lead, a definite keeper (and he and his family like the ‘peg).

    Dustin can play D and wing. That’s key given the long standing LW deficiency that can be resolved by moving him up on the right side in a pinch and allowing some shuffling in the process.

    Trouba I think has a ways to go, Postma I believe will prove himself in Wpg. or elsewhere given time and support.

    Eventually the Jets will have to solve the LW problem in the market place, there’s no alternative at this time.

    Dustin goes out of position in the clutch/pressure, and some media interviews make me wonder about his maturity. Having said that the D corps can’t do without him right now. He may not like the microscope-like atmosphere in Wpg though… He is a great potential trade but not now later, sign him.

  • Buff was a big minus player on D all but his 1st Jet year. I wouldn’t list him on the D depth chart anymore. The perfect refutation to claiming the stat doesn’t matter is ask yourself what a team of the biggest minus players in the league would play like?

    Ladd wouldn’t dress during a family event in the tail end of a playoff race, and Buff was on Toews’s line when they won the Cup. If there is anyone that can play with the Dane or any lighter prospect it is him. I go with the playoff performer.
    Everyone on an isolated community city like to be way too friendly. The GST line might have been the worst line in hockey but that is all this blog would talk about years ago.
    Crosby lost Colby and Recchi (a mistake) because Pittsburgh wanted him to know they were now playing to win.
    The other coaches will direct their entire efforts around the Buff pilon if he is a D. This is fine in the playoffs as he can make them pay, but they won’t get there with his hard turned over passes and 2-1s against.
    Arena football could be a Pan-Am event. CBC didn’t show the boxing final…happy there is junior hockey on.

    • Plus/Minus is a terrible stat at evaluating players.

      Buff was a plus player in his first season with:

      He was an even player with:

      He was a minus player with:

      Stuart was the 4th most common player with Byfuglien

      I never use plus/minus because it’s terrible

  • AWheeler

    He was a plus player when he was still in his prime. This is magnified for a 260 pound player. He was arrogant enough and the coach weak enough to dictate he should be defenceman his biggest minus year as a defenceman. I’m guessing he wasn’t listening to Noel’s coaching advice either; that’s when I send a player to the minors.
    I bet when he played with Stuart it was because of injuries and versatile Buff was filling the void on a borderline AHL D.
    It is my second favourite stat next to goals. Are you too young to remember Ulanov (before shot-blocking at the end of his career) and Bautin? Just like NFL football overvalues a big QB, the Kings didn’t win cups until they traded J.Johnson. I’ve watched Buff play on D: opposing forwards wait for his long hard passes, and they wait for his to be caught up ice like all the teams against Canada did when Gretz had Bertuzzi, Thornton, the FWs over 100kg, on the boards cycling to nowhere.
    Buff is a minus because he is too heavy to be an even-strength defenceman. And he doesn’t have advanced passing techniques. The Wings and Hawks just send the puck to Datsyuk and Toews any way they can. Buff can’t get the puck to the Dane.
    Buff peaked around 24 when he made room for Kane and Toews against Pronger.
    The plus minus (vs teammates over time) is the clue for a coach to analyze deficiencies or adapt other players around him.
    I’d sign a two years contract around $5.5M a year with the ability to trade to at least a few teams. Ladd would be fine at 4 years $16M or 6 years $21.
    The Russian will be the best plus minus on the team and the Jets will all be better watching his defensive game. Unless Scheifele breaks out.
    Kessel is a minus player. I watched him very softly turn the puck over in a playoff race in the neutral zone…it was an attempted dump in from just past his own blueline that lead to a goal the other way. It stayed softly enough on the ice I could’ve intercepted it for an assist. He never practised those skills but will make the PP the among the leagues best.
    PPs don’t matter much in the playoffs.

  • No.

    You are wrong.


    Buff took tougher line matches when with Enstrom.

    plus minus is not used by anyone but media and fans anymore as it has been proven to be very luck, goaltender, and team driven. Plus the empty net and special team impact is just terrible way to do a stat, which was obviously done by a guy that doesn’t know how numbers work. That’s why shot metrics exist and are called underlying metrics. They help show the player input in their goal differential.

    Besides, Jets actually have a better goal differential over the past 5 seasons with Buff on D than when on bench or forward. Buff wasn’t even a great forward for the Hawks; that was more Toews doing the heavy lifting and Buff having a hot streak at the right time.