Why the Jets need to keep Andrew Ladd

The pressure is on
for the Jets. After taste with making the playoffs last season fans hunger another playoff berth.

The consensus on management seems that they wish to inject more youth into the lineup with the
likes of Nik Ehlers, Nic Petan, and Joel Armia hoping to make the
Jets. If these young players are to thrive throughout the regular
season, they will need a leader.

And this why all eyes are on Jets
captain, Andrew Ladd, who is going into the season in the final year
of his contract.

Lets take a look at the Jets beloved captain and why True North needs to extend Ladd going into this season.

Andrew Ladd is
coming off a season of career highs for points, scoring 24 goals and
38 assists over 81 games. Those 62 points also led the Jets, who
ranked 16th in goals for.

Looking at some more stats, we
can note that 24 of Ladd’s 38 assists were primary assists and 6 of
his goals were game winners. Without looking at advanced stats, we
can already tell that Andrew Ladd is an integral part of the Winnipeg Jets.

The most important
part in a contract negotiation is he wants to a Winnipeg Jet, and the Jets need to retain players that wish to stay in Winnipeg.

During
an interview by the Winnipeg Free Press at a Special Olympics
Fundraising Golf Tournament, Ladd said this,

I
think all the things add up. I love our ownership. Chevy (GM Kevin
Cheveldayoff) has done a great job of setting us up and I think
everyone’s made their point of how much they enjoy Paul (Maurice,
coach) here so a lot of things are adding up and I think we’re
heading in the right direction and I want to be part of it.

Andrew wants to stay
and if the Jets are all in with the youth movement, Ladd needs to
stay. But, will he be worth it? That is another question altogether.

Ladd will be worth
the contract he receives initially, but he turns 30 in December and
will most likely be looking to have a long term deal in place. He is
coming off a contract with an average value of 4.4 million dollars and has
definitely out played that contract. We should expect an extension carrying an AAV up to or over six million for his next contract.

Here are some
similar players in points and age that have been signed in the past
year.

Ryan Kesler

Jets
fans may feel shudder, recalling the match up of Kesler and Mark Scheifele during
the 2014-15 Stanley Cup playoffs. Kesler received a major
raise this off-season with a 6 year
contract extension worth $41.25 million with the Anaheim Ducks. While Kesler requires a premium with being a centre, the Ducks are distributing over seven million of their cap to a player who produced only 47 points (20 goals and 27
assists). For a guy who is a shadow of himself, Kesler’s offensive numbers are not as high and Ladd’s agent is will be trying to use Kesler as a
starting point.

Jason Spezza

Jason Spezza recently received a pay raise to $7.5 million over 4 years, taking him until he
is 37. The Dallas Stars are an organization with a lot of young talent but some premium veterans, a similar situation to the Jets. Spezza scored 62 points as
well, although is also often a centre like Kesler. Thirty million could be a dangerous
numbers to consider, especially for a team that may need to extend Dustin Byfuglien
as well.

Brandon Saad

Brandon Saad was
signed by Columbus to a 6 year $36 million extension. Saad is younger though, with some of his contract eating up cost constrained restricted free agency years. For a player who has not played in the NHL for that long,
those are big numbers and another contract Andrew Ladd’s agent can
point to for comparison. Saad had a career year of 52 points in his
4th season with any NHL action. While 52 points is a lot in the new NHL, it is not a lot for
a RFA contract averaging $6 million a year.

Zach Parise

Finally, one more
comparable player is Zach Parise. Parise is 31 and scored the same
amount of points as Ladd this past season, 33 goals and 29 assists
for 62 points. For a guy who is moving past his prime, Parise’s
contract of $7.538 million AAV is a scary contract to think about as Jets fans, especially since Parise will be on this contract until the
2019-20 season. Parise may have quite a bit of gas left in the tank, but he is not what he once was and has not broken 70 points since the 2009-10 season.

So why are all of these
numbers potentially scary for Jets fans?

The Jets will also look to giving Mark Scheifele and
Jacob Trouba for pay
raises that same year as well. Additionally, the Jets will be trying to build on
their hopeful success and may wish to sign free agents to build around their young core, which would require additional cap space. The Jets have just over $13 million in cap space going into this season, which can be eaten up
with the re-signing of key players, if they are not careful.

Still, the Jets were a legitimate playoff team last and there is a strong case to keep Andrew Ladd to keep the Jets contending for the post-season.

The Jets only ranked
sixteenth in goals for this past season. If the Jets are going to
build on last season’s success, they will need similar point totals
from their veterans, including Ladd. The loss of Michael Frolik’s offense also puts more pressure on the Jets top line.

This past season, Ladd scored half of his goals during 5v5 situations and
has consistently scored the majority of his goals there throughout his career. Even strength production is all the more important to a team like the Jets, ranked 18th in powerplay percentage last season.

Another quality to
Andrew Ladd is his durability. Over the past five seasons as a
Jet and Thrasher, Ladd has only missed 6 games. What is even more impressive is over those 5 seasons, Ladd has
scored less than 50 points only once. The one season he scored 46 points
was the lockout season of 48 games and if Ladd had continued at his
scoring pace that season, he would have scored around 77 points that year. As
whole, those are consistent numbers, which should give Jets fans hope
if and when Ladd signs a long-term deal.

Ladd has long been a reliable
player possession wise. During his time in the Jets and Thrashers
organization, Ladd has averaged a Corsi For % of 53.36 and Fenwick
For % of 53.24. While, this isn’t Patrice Beregeron level of driving
play, whenever Ladd is on the ice, the Jets are more likely to be in
possession of the puck and directing more pucks at their opponent’s net than their own.

Andrew Ladd provides leadership and intangibles to a team
whose average age is 27 years old and has many up and coming young players. Players like Mark Scheifele, Jacob Trouba, Nic Petan, Nik Ehlers, and Tyler Myers will be looking to him for not only
leadership, but mentorship.

The Jets need Ladd and Ladd wants to be a
Jet. Ladd’s production history and durability show that he can be
depended on to produce as a decent first line player while keeping
the puck in his team’s possession. 

Andrew Ladd’s
reliability and leadership makes keeping him essential for Jets management and well worth the money.

All numbers courtesy of Hockey Reference and all contract information courtesy of NHL Numbers

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