Andrew Ladd is a top-six winger that plays a 200-foot game, can be a threat on the power play and kills off penalties. He has scored 23 or more goals in each of the last three seasons and while his 48 point 2015-16 campaign is his lowest point total over the last three seasons, the 6-foot-3 left-wing still has the scoring touch most teams around the NHL want among their top-six.
Ladd was paid $4.5 million last season and the unrestricted free-agent will likely be looking for a number in that same ballpark on a new contract. He'll turn 31-years-old in December.
It's worth noting that Chicago currently has just over $9 million in cap space at the moment with a combined 10 restricted and unrestricted free agents to deal with. Andrew Shaw and Ladd headline that group of free-agents.
Ladd spent five and a half seasons with the Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets before being dealt to the Chicago Blackhawks on February 25th. He had 17 goals and 17 helpers in 59 games with the Jets this season before scoring eight goals and assisting on four others in 19 regular season contests with Chicago. Ten of Ladd's 25 goals and four of his 21 helpers on the year came on the man advantage.
In looking at a few fancy stats, Ladd held a 50.87 Corsi For percentage during five-on-five play during his 85 game season to go along with a 12.5% shooting percentage in all situations which would have sat behind only Mike Fisher (12.9%) among Predators that played in at least 50 games this season.
With Winnipeg, Ladd spent the majority of his five-on-five play on a line with Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler and the trio was good. The three played a total of 423:13 at even strength together while posting a goals for/60 minutes mark of 3.12. Their combined shooting percentage sat at 9.40% while their Corsi For percentage was strong at 55.9%.
With Chicago, the majority of Ladd's five-on-five ice time came on the wing of Jonathan Toews opposite Marian Hossa; not bad company to say the least. The three combined for 75:40 of 5-on-5 play together while posting a goals for/60 minutes average of 1.59 while also holding a goals allowed/60 minutes mark of 3.96. Their combined PDO was low as well at just 89.4% alongside their combined Corsi For percentage of 53.1%.
Now onto the fun stuff, shots.
Ladd averaged 2.4 shots on net per contest through the 85 games he played in 2015-16 in all situations. He also averaged 1.8 scoring chances and 0.7 high-danger scoring chances during five-on-five play per game for the year. For comparison, Filip Forsberg averaged 0.8 high-danger chances in 96 games while James Neal averaged 0.9.
There is a lot to like in Ladd's shot rate differential for chart on the left; lots of dark red in high-danger and overall quality scoring areas on the ice. Focusing on the left chart should be the first spot your eyes go to, but you can't entirely overlook the shot rate differential against chart on the right.
In making just a quick note about Ladd on the penalty kill, he averaged a combined 1.6 minutes per contest on the PK through his 85 games. While neither Chicago's (22nd) nor Winnipeg's (25th) penalty kills were anything to write home about, Ladd did kill off a high number of penalties. He was a -13 in the goals for/goals against department while on the penalty kill. Ladd also blocked 45 shots and landed 191 hits in all situations.
Where Would He Fit?
Ladd is a top-six winger that has had the privilege of playing with some high-quality centers during his day and the Predators certainly have one of those in Ryan Johansen.
If Ladd was signed by Nashville, here is a look at what the top three lines may look like:
Ladd - Johansen - Neal
Forsberg - Fisher/Ribeiro/Jarnkrok - Smith
Wilson/Jarnkrok - Fisher/Ribeiro/Jarnkrok - Arvidsson
That's a combined 70 goals on that hypothetical top line by the way.
Many are penciling in Colin Wilson to take over that first-line left-wing spot and it could very well happen. Maybe playoff Colin Wilson could turn into consistent all year round Colin Wilson, or he could answer right back with another six goal regular season like in 2015-16 or maybe an 11 goal 2013-14 campaign.
The bottom line is, Ladd has proven himself to consistently light the lamp and outside of Filip Forsberg the Preds don't have another left-wing on the roster that holds that same status.
Does It Make Sense?
Sure it does.
Ladd has shown that he is a consistent top-six, two-way winger that will flirt with the 25 to 30 goal mark every season. How many of those do the Predators currently have? Filip Forsberg, James Neal and I guess you can throw Craig Smith into that bunch as well, but after those names Nashville simply doesn't have a consistent goal scoring winger, especially one that can kill off penalties at the same time outside of Forsberg.
Sure it may cost Nashville some coin, but the Predators have coin to spend.