Winnipeg Jets Have Hit a Home Run with Andrew Ladd Trade

The Winnipeg Jets have hit a home run with the Andrew Ladd trade to the Chicago Blackhawks. Having said that, this deal also works very well for Chicago. The Hawks are at a time and place where it’s about winning the Stanley Cup. Chicago is in a period where they have a window for championships and Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman is all in. Yes the Hawks paid a very expensive price to land Ladd. Saying that, the addition of the now 30-year old winger to their roster could put them over the top to land their fourth Stanley Cup in seven years. But let’s talk about the Jets.

Jets’ Return

There is no doubt that Andrew Ladd is still a very productive player. But, hitting thirty, he has put up just 34 points this season after a strong 62-point campaign. He will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end and the Hawks likely will not be able to re-sign him, so for Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff to land two strong assets for a rental player, I’d say that works out well for the team with young stars coming through the pipeline.

In all likelihood the Blackhawks’ first round pick in this upcoming draft will be a selection at the very end of the round, possibly the last selection. The 2016 draft is shaping up to be a strong one, and the Jets will walk away with another excellent prospect to their organization come this June. This trade also gives the Jets two first round selections. In terms of future talent the rich get richer as the Jets are ranked second overall by Hockey’s Future in terms of organizational pipelines.

Then we get to Marko Dano. Dano, a former first round pick himself (27th overall by Columbus in 2013), is a 21 year old kid with a very bright future. The question with him is what kind of goal scorer will he be? That will decide if Dano turns out to be either a top six forward or an excellent third line player. Remember, he was a key player Chicago acquired in the Brandon Saad trade with Columbus this past off-season, so GM Stan Bowman of the Chicago Blackhawks had to be high on him as a piece to come from the Blue Jackets’ system. Dano already has played in the NHL with both Columbus and Chicago despite being just 21. He is ready to start his NHL career. So Winnipeg adds a player who can help them now.

Ladd’s Future Production

While Andrew Ladd gave the Jets many productive seasons, as I stated at the top his production may be trending the wrong way. Despite increasing his point totals from 2013-15 (46 in ’13, 54 in ’13-14, 62 in ’14-15), he has a disappointing total of 34 this season. Given that Ladd is now 30 it would not have been wise for Winnipeg to invest in a long term contract with their now former captain with possible questions to answer. Recently the Jets just invested in a long term contract with the soon to be 31 year old Dustin Byfuglien. It’s never easy for a franchise and their fans to trade a popular productive player, especially the captain of the team. But, given where the Jets franchise currently stands, cashing in Ladd for two strong future assets (if the Hawks win the Cup this year, the Jets also will receive a 3rd round pick in 2018) was the right move for this franchise.

Jets’ Cap Going Forward

With this deal the Jets clear $4.4 million in cap space towards next years salary cap and budget. That will come in very handy for Winnipeg. Byfuglien’s cap number will see a considerable jump starting next season when it comes in at $7.6 million. In addition this off-season the Jets have restricted free agents in Jacob Trouba, Mark Scheifele, Michael Hutchinson, Adam Lowry and Joel Armia.

Getting Trouba signed this summer coming off his entry deal could be a challenging situation and one to watch. Could Trouba be heading to the Islanders with the hometown boy Travis Hamonic coming to Winnipeg? Keep in mind after next year, the 2016-17 season, the Jets have six UFA’s and three RFA’s. Mathieu Perreault, Drew Stafford and Ondrej Pavelec all are UFA’s after next season. With the emergence of Connor Hellebuyck I expect Pavelec to be moved this off-season. A number of teams will be in the market for a goalie this summer.

This season has been a major disappointment for the Jets especially after a playoff appearance last year. But my message to Jets fans is this organization is loaded with young talent. The future for Winnipeg is very bright.