Andrew Ladd, Winnipeg Jets captain, traded to Blackhawks
Winnipeg gets Marko Dano, 1st-round pick, conditional pick in return
The last time Andrew Ladd wore a Blackhawks jersey it was in the middle of the 2010 Stanley Cup parade in downtown Chicago.
He's hoping to repeat that moment.
The Winnipeg Jets traded their captain to the Blackhawks in a multi-player deal on Thursday with forward Matt Fraser and defenceman Jay Harrison also going to Chicago. Both Fraser and Harrison will report to the American Hockey League's Rockford IceHogs.
"The city was electric and we just had such a close-knit group of guys that it was an exciting time for everyone," said Ladd on a conference call Thursday night. "Then the reality hit that not everyone's going to be sticking around.
"I think it was good for my career in terms of the situations and minutes that I played beyond that. I'm excited to come back and really show what my game's all about now."
Winnipeg gets forward Marko Dano, the Blackhawks' first-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft and a conditional pick in 2018.
Ladd, an unrestricted free agent after this season, was the Jets captain since they moved from Atlanta for the 2011-12 season. He knew that after Winnipeg re-signed defenceman Dustin Byfuglien to a $38 million US, five-year deal on Feb. 8 that there was a good chance he'd be moved.
"I think after Buff signed and we talked to [Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff] that's when I got the sense that it probably wasn't going to happen," said Ladd. "Then you obviously start thinking and hoping that if [a trade] is going to happen you're going to go to a place that has a chance to win.
"Chicago was at the top of my list, for sure. I'm excited to have the opportunity to go back there and have another chance to win a Stanley Cup again."
Ladd immediately upgrades the reigning Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks, filling a need on the left wing of their already-potent top-six forward group. He seems likely to join Jonathan Toews on a Chicago top unit that will also likely include Marian Hossa, sidelined at the moment by a leg injury.
Ladd hoping rental turns into more
Ladd, who will earn $4.5 million this season, isn't sure if he'll just be a rental for the Blackhawks' playoff run, or if he might be in Chicago for the forseeable future.
"I think there's a lot of moving parts in that," said Ladd. "Hopefully I go back and fit in well with the group but there's so many things that go into that so we'll just have to wait and see.
"Hopefully I go there and it turns out really well and I play well and it makes them think about re-sigining me but we'll cross that bridge when we have to."
The 30-year-old Ladd played in Chicago for two-plus seasons while winning a Cup. Ladd also captured the Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006.
Ladd has 17 goals and 17 assists in 59 games for Winnipeg this season, with a total of 202 goals and 252 assists in 750 career NHL games across 11 seasons with Carolina (2005-08), Chicago (2008-10), Atlanta (2010-11) and Winnipeg (2011-16).
"Thanks to @NHLJets and the city of Winnipeg for 5 great years! Going to miss all my teammates, training staff and great people I met there!" said Ladd from his verified Twitter account.
"Excited to be back @NHLBlackhawks ! See you soon!" he added in another.
The Jets, meanwhile, land a nice haul for their future. A key piece of Chicago's return in a summer trade with Columbus that made Brandon Saad a member of the Blue Jackets, Dano had 23 points in 34 AHL games with Rockford this season.
Fraser has five goals and nine assists in 44 games with the AHL's Manitoba Moose this season. Harrison has three goals and two assists in 18 games with Manitoba this season.