One of the most interesting potential free agents heading to market in 2016 is Andrew Ladd, but the Winnipeg Jets captain made it no secret he wants to stay in Mantioba’s capital.
In an interview with TSN Wednesday, Ladd said he wants to get a contract extension done before the new season begins and said he feels the interest is there from the Jets. But getting it done before the season — we’re now only 40 days away from puck drop — could be difficult. Ladd knows that, however, and said that he’s aware it could take some time.
“I’ve been around long enough that I know sometimes these things take a little time,” he added. “I think both parties are interested.”
The question for the Jets and GM Kevin Cheveldayoff now becomes not whether Ladd is willing to re-up in Winnipeg, but rather how much it will cost the generally cost-conscious Jets to get their captain under contract again. Thing is, the number might not be too difficult to pinpoint: Ladd’s new deal could be roughly $5.6 million per season.
Over the past three seasons, there are only two players who closely match Ladd’s production: his Jets teammate Blake Wheeler and Minnesota Wild right winger Jason Pominville — both of whom make $5.6 million per season. And since 2012, the similarities between Pominville, Wheeler and Ladd are incredible.
Since the lockout-shortened season, each of the three have played between 2,900 and 2,950 minutes at 5-on-5 and all three have maintained shot attempts for percentages between 51.5 and 53 percent. Ladd, at 53 percent, sits atop Wheeler (51.5) and Pominville (52.1). All three have also scored between 40 and 45 goals, 95 to 105 points and maintained between 1.95 to 2.20 points per 60 minutes at 5-on-5.
They’re not identical players — Ladd is the most physical of the lot, Wheeler is easily the fastest and Pominville might be the most natural goal scorer — but they all have very much the same statistics in just about every area over the past three seasons.
Luckily for the Jets, they have roughly $5 million in salary coming off the books next season with room in the lineup for Ladd. And that $5 million doesn’t include Dustin Byfuglien’s $5.2 million cap hit, which will come off the books should the Jets not re-sign the big-bodied blueliner. If Byfuglien isn’t back, Cheveldayoff will have more than $10 million to work with.
It’s been a tough market this off-season for free agents and that could continue to next season. If Ladd is looking to lock up one more big money deal, though, this could be his time to do it. And for the Jets and their captain, they might be best not to mess with what has been very much a good thing.
“I love our ownership and (Cheveldayoff) has done a great job setting us up,” Ladd told TSN. “I think everyone has made their point about how much they’ve enjoyed (coach Paul Maurice) here and I think we’re heading in the right direction. I want to be a part of it.”
And, for the right price, there’s no doubt Ladd will be.