Atlanta Thrashers sign Andrew Ladd
The Atlanta Thrashers have announced that they have signed left-winger Andrew Ladd to a one-year deal worth $2.35 million. The signing helps the Thrashers avoid arbitration with the 24-year-old.
Ladd began his professional career with the Coquitlam Express of the British Columbia Hockey League. He spent two years with the express before moving on to the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League.
Ladd dominated with the Hitmen in his first season scoring 75 points in just 71 games. The strong season with Calgary persuaded the Carolina Hurricanes to choose him fourth overall in the 2004 National Hockey League entry draft.
In 2006-07 Ladd split the season between the Hurricanes and their American Hockey League affiliate the Lowell Monsters. The next season Ladd joined the Hurricanes full time playing in 65 games and registering 21 points.
The following season Ladd was traded part way through the year to the Chicago Blackhawks. He played all 82 games for the Blackhawks over the next two seasons. Last season Ladd recorded 17 goals and 21 assists for 38 points.
This off-season Ladd was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers as a restricted free agent due to the Blackhawks tight cap restrictions.
The Ladd signing continues to get the restricted free agents off the Thrashers books. The club traded for Ladd, Ben Eager, and Dustin Byfuglien after it became clear that the Blackhawks would not be able to sign any of the forwards. All three were restricted free agents and all three have signed one year contracts with Atlanta.
Ladd brings more size, reliability and experience to the young Thrashers line-up. He has not put the puck in the net the way many expected him to when he was drafted fourth overall. Nevertheless, he has managed to remain in the league full time over the past four years.
Ladd brings size to the Thrashers, who were in desperate need of a power forward last season. Ladd also has experience being the banger on lines with skilled players, playing long stretches of the last two seasons with both Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.
In addition, Ladd will bring defensive responsibility to a forward core that otherwise lacked it last season. Perhaps Ladd’s most impressive stat is the fact that he has been a plus-player since he arrived in the league. In 2008-09 he was a plus-26 for the Hawks.
Finally Ladd brings more experience to a Thrashers line-up that is bent on making the play-offs in 2010-11. With three post-season stints under his belt, Ladd is about as experienced as a 24-year-old can get in the play-offs. With their limited success over the years the Thrashers will be grateful to have Ladd’s familiarity in the line-up.
The one concerning detail of the contract is the term. General Manager Rick Dudley has signed another forward to a one-year contract, and will risk losing him if they do not have something worked out by next July.
The one-year contract is a great signing for Ladd as the youngster could be an unrestricted free agent by this time next season. The short term commitment coupled with a sizable salary makes the deal with the Thrashers look good.
Ladd had a pretty vital role on the Blackhawks, and is certain to get even more ice time with the Thrashers. The strong winger should expect to see first line minutes as well as first unit power play minutes. In addition, Ladd is a skilled shorthanded player and could see time on the teams penalty kill.
It is important for Ladd to have a strong season this year, and start living up to his high draft selection. He has been a fringe player so far in Carolina and Chicago, Atlanta will be expecting more from him, and with another 30 point season he certainly will not see $2 million plus next year.