The NHL Trade Deadline is inching closer as it is a little over two weeks away on February 29. The Washington Capitals have suffered with some injuries over the past couple of months, but they have pulled through and they are still at the top of the NHL.
The Capitals are on the verge of making the NHL Playoffs, and they are the odds-on favorite to win the Stanley Cup. There is no guarantee in the playoffs, and Capitals fans are all aware of the club’s horrid playoff past.
There is a lot to be excited about with this year’s club, because they are the best club in franchise history. This Capitals team is different from the teams in years past. They are a confident group that is well coached, and they have excellent balance.
With the Deadline looming in a little over a couple of weeks, the Capitals will certainly take their time to evaluate all of their options. If making a move makes sense for Capitals GM Brian MacLellan, he has shown that he is not afraid to pull the trigger.
So who will be the biggest names possibly available at the upcoming NHL Trade Deadline? Who could come in and help the Capitals get to the promised land? Let’s take a look at Winnipeg Jets forward Andrew Ladd
WHY THE CAPITALS SHOULD TRADE FOR ANDREW LADD
The 30-year old Jets Captain is a 2004 1st round pick of the Carolina Hurricanes. The big feisty winger has played in over 700 career NHL games, so he has a wealth of experience. Ladd won a Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes back in 2006 and with the Chicago Blackhawks back in 2010.
Ladd is coming off an excellent 2014-15 season. He had 24 goals and 62 points last year. In 2015-16, Ladd has recorded 13 goals and 30 points through 53 games played. Ladd is a versatile player who plays in all situations for the Jets. He is third on the Jets in total icetime among forwards. He averages a little over 19 minutes a game, and he gets plenty of time on the Jets powerplay and penalty kill units. Ladd has recorded 4 20+ goal seasons in his NHL career, so he has some good scoring touch.
Ladd is a player that brings added grit and leadership to a lineup. He would be a good fit in the Capitals top nine group. He is a former teammate of Capitals forward Justin Williams. Players like Andrew Ladd are good to have around for a Stanley Cup contender. Ladd would bring his tenacity and hard-nosed style to a Capitals team that is loaded with plenty of skill. With that proper mix of skill and grit, the Capitals should be able to get over the hump in the playoffs.
WHY THE CAPITALS SHOULD NOT TRADE FOR ANDREW LADD
Ladd is coming off an expiring 5-year deal that carries a cap hit of $4.4 million. The rumors out of Winnipeg in recent weeks have Ladd seeking a long-term deal that is north of $6 million.
With Ladd seeking a big long-term payday for his next contract, that will automatically scare some teams away. Ladd would most likely be a pure rental for the Capitals, and not a guy that they would keep long term. The Capitals already have Andre Burakovsky who has done a fantastic job on the Capitals second line. Burakovsky has not even scratched the surface of where he can go as a player, and he still has loads of potential. The Capitals also have Jakub Vrana waiting inside their system and he appears to have a ton of upside.
The Capitals are tight against the salary cap, so if an Andrew Ladd trade did go down, there would have to be some salary and contracts shifted around. Brooks Laich or Marcus Johansson would be the most likely Capitals players that would have to get shipped out in order for an Andrew Ladd trade to go down. With Brooks Orpik and Jay Beagle returning to the fold soon, the Capitals will be crowded with contracts at the NHL level. There is a chance that someone will have to get moved when the roster gets healthy.
The Jets will take their time with Andrew Ladd to try and make the market as big as possible for him. They will probably seek a top prospect and a top draft pick in exchange for his services.
There will be teams seeking Andrew Ladd’s services. But any team that will give up good assets in a trade for him will probably want to re-sign him long-term. Ladd is a player that still has plenty of hockey left in him. He is a player that is better off going to a team that plans to re-sign him long-term.
SHOULD THE CAPITALS PULL THE TRIGGER?
Ladd is a player that would be a short-term fix for the Capitals. It is highly unlikely that the Capitals would give up on any of their young up-and-coming forwards like Andre Burakovsky or Jakub Vrana.
With the Capitals so tight to the cap, it would be nearly impossible to re-sign Andrew Ladd for future seasons. Is it worth it to give up a decent asset for a short-term fix? Ladd would give the Capitals a scoring boost in their lineup for the playoffs, but that is only for a short period of time.
While Ladd is a very solid NHL player, is he a $6+ million-dollar player? Is he a guy that a club can commit to for the next 6 to 7 years? With Kuznetsov and Burakovsky extensions looming within the next couple of years, the Capitals will be handing out some hefty raises to their own players. For a teams like the Capitals who spend to the salary cap, every penny is important. The Capitals are already committed long-term to Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Matt Niskanen, Brooks Orpik, and Braden Holtby. It is highly unlikely that they can afford to become committed to any more long-term deals for the time being.
Ladd would be a nice addition to this Capitals roster, but the price will probably be too steep to get him. It is important that the Capitals do not sacrifice their entire future for only a 3-5 month fix.
By George Foussekis