Andrew Ladd has been the captain and heartbeat of the Winnipeg Jets organization since the team returned to Winnipeg. He is entering the final year of a 4 year extension he signed with the Jets before the team’s first season in Winnipeg. The question of what to do with Ladd beyond this season is one that has been asked by many fans. We will look in depth at what Andrew Ladd’s value is and what the Jets could resign him for.
Andrew Ladd has spent 4 seasons as a Winnipeg Jet. In this time, he has consistently been a top performer offensively.
|4 yr. total||289||93||119||212||19||215||20||0||18||799||
Ladd has missed only 5 games in his 4 seasons, showing his consistent durability to go along with his offensive output. His first two seasons saw him put up outstanding goal/game numbers. However, his role in those first two seasons was as a top line player alongside Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little, who also put up significant numbers. This was the Jets top offensive trio almost every night, and this inflated their numbers to a degree.
This past season, Ladd has been more of a second line player, playing alongside Little and Michael Frolik. He had less time against the top opposition d-pairings, as this matchup has been reserved most nights for the group of Wheeler, Scheifele and Stafford. This has allowed Ladd to settle into a more natural middle 6 forward role for the Jets.
The numbers also show that Ladd is a clutch player for the Jets. According to the website stats.hockeyanalytics.com, in 5vs5 close situations, Ladd had 25 points including 17 assists, both of which were best on the team.
When looking at comparables, it makes sense to compare similar players based on basic production statistics (goals, assists, points, shooting %). I have also used in the comparison first assists (provided by stats.hockeyanalysis.com), which tells a little more about what kind of player each comparable is (pass-first, shoot-first).
Reviewing stats from across the league for the last 3 seasons, the following players turn up as comparables to Andrew Ladd:
|3 yr. total||196||17:53||68||93||63||161||538||12.6|
Thomas Vanek is a big left-winger with a quick release on his wrist shot and the ability to score from any spot on the ice. Vanek does not rely on his speed to get to spots on the ice, but rather, he relies on being in the right spot when the puck comes to him, and the ability to pick his spot and fire the puck home from the high slot area.
While Vanek has a similar body type to Ladd, Vanek seems unwilling to go to the dirty areas to obtain the puck and score his goals. The charts at sportingcharts.com show that 8 of Ladd’s 24 goals this past season came from a 4 ft. area around the crease, while Vanek’s goals more often come from the higher slot.
2014-15 was the first year of a 3 year, $19.5 million contract for Vanek with Minnesota. This contract will pay him an average annual value of $6.5 million. Vanek was 30 years old when this contract began.
|3 yr. total||182||19:52||64||88||55||152||561||11.4|
Alexander Steen has battled injuries the past couple years, as he has missed 30 games over the past 3 seasons. Steen plays a more supplementary role with the Blues. When defending the Blues, teams often have focused on players like Tarasenko, Backes, and Oshie, which has allowed Steen to flourish in a lower line role. This would be similar to what the Jets hope to accomplish, playing Ladd as a complementary player to Wheeler, Scheifele and Little.
Steen is a different player to Ladd in that Steen’s goals often come from mid-circle or higher on the ice, as seen by his goal chart from last season. In the same 4 ft. area in front of the net, Steen scored only 3 times, while Ladd scored 8 last season.
2014-15 was the first season of a 3 year, $17.4 million contract for Steen with St Louis. This contract will pay him an average annual value of $5.8 million. Steen was 30 years old when this contract began.
|3 yr. total||212||19:50||69||89||49||158||667||10.3|
Although Patrick Marleau is a centreman, his game might be the most similar to Ladd of the three players cited in this comparison. Marleau is a shoot first player, who plays off of one of the game’s best passers (Joe Thornton). Marleau relies on Thornton to get him the puck, and once Marleau gets it, he does not miss that often.
Marleau’s durability, like Ladd, has never been a question. Marleau has not missed a game for the Sharks since the 08-09 season.
2014/15 was the first year of a 3 year, $20 million contract for Marleau with San Jose. This contract will pay him $6.67 million per season. Marleau was 35 years old when this contract began.
|Age at start of new contract||30||35||30||30|
The biggest decision that the Jets will need to make on Ladd will be the length of term on this contract. Ladd has been a consistent performer for the Jets these past 4 seasons. His dip in shooting percentage below his average last season indicates that his production can get better simply with a reversion to his mean performance.
The comparables above show that the likely baseline for Ladd would be a contract at 3 years and an average of $6.3 million. The problem is that this would make Ladd eligible for UFA status again at 33, when he could get one more large payday. If he came up for UFA status at the end of the 18/19 season, this would coincide with potential extensions for Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele, Alex Burmistrov, Adam Lowry, and Jacob Trouba, not to mention young talent like Nikolaj Ehlers, Josh Morrissey, Brendan Lemieux, and Joel Armia.
The solution for the Jets would be to lock Ladd up for a longer term and build around him. Ladd’s durability means that you can count on 5 or 6 more productive seasons, and at the end of that contract, he would be ready to pass the torch of the captaincy to a younger player like Trouba.
Based on all of this, I would value Ladd on a sliding scale based on term:
Statistics and Contract Details courtesy of nhl.com, nhlnumbers.com, stats.hockeyanalysis.com, and sportingcharts.com
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