The New York Rangers have been white hot over the past few weeks, and they have made a considerable dent within the Metropolitan Division. The roster has become cohesive, lines are starting to jell, but there is still a chance that improvements could be made within the coming weeks.
Larry Brooks speculated about the Rangers contacting the Winnipeg Jets during one of his latest musings at the New York Post, and whether or not general manager Glen Sather would move Carl Hagelin in a potential deal.
If the struggling Jets would move Ladd, it is an opportunity the Rangers should not pass up on. For starters, the 28-year-old winger is a proven winner and a two-time Stanley Cup champion to boot.
He is also a solid veteran leader who has been an unsung contributor throughout his career. Ladd has been a great complementary player, and that is exactly what the Rangers could use.
It would be ideal to add another star player to the Broadway marquee, but it is probably easier said than done. Trading for Ladd would be more attainable and a better overall move for a bevy of reasons.
The Jets need to kick-start a rebuild, and Ladd is an easier player to move than superstar Evander Kane. Ladd has tangible value, and the Rangers are a team with the goods to facilitate a trade.
Adding Ladd to the lineup could enhance the effectiveness of players already in the top six, because he has the tools to be a great foil for players such as Rick Nash and Chris Kreider.
Ladd stands 6’3" and weighs 205 pounds, and that size would make him a great fit for the up-tempo two-way system that is currently in place under Alain Vigneault.
He also can play a physical game when necessary, and that edge and snarl would be another plus for the Rangers lineup.
Another selling point for Ladd is his contract. For the next two seasons, Ladd will only count $4.4 million against the cap, and that number is friendlier than the player he could potentially replace.
If the Rangers were to trade for Ladd, it would likely be the precursor to trading another player from the roster, because having him and Ladd would be redundant.
Here are two descriptions—try to guess who is who.
|Who Am I?|
|Player||Character Traits||Career PPG|
|A||Versatile two-way winger with energy, and a born leader.||0.56|
|B||Quality complementary winger and leader.||0.58|
|The Hockey News|
As you can see, the results are pretty similar, so who is A and who is B?
To save you the suspense, Player B is Ladd, and Player A is captain Ryan Callahan.
Both players are nearly identical in career production, but Ladd has gotten better with age, whereas Callahan’s production has tailed off because of injuries.
In theory, Ladd would bring everything Callahan currently does, and he is a more durable and better offensive player. Even though their career numbers are similar, Ladd was a bottom-six player until coming to the Thrashers/Jets in 2010-11.
Over the past five seasons, Ladd has missed only one game, and he posted a career-high 0.96 PPG average in 2012-13.
It would be foolhardy of Sather to extend this to Callahan, because the odds are not in his benefit. If you need some evidence, look at how Clarkson has failed to meet expectations and look at Brown’s struggles.
Steve Zipay of Newsday recently opined that Callahan’s days could be numbered, and he makes a lot of sense:
But Callahan turns 29 in March, and his play has produced a litany of injuries, most recently offseason shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum, a broken thumb in October and a sprained MCL in early December.
Going back to 2010, you'll recall a broken left hand, and that broken right ankle in 2011 from blocking shots.
When he is healthy, Callahan is a skilled, passionate engine. As he plays on, however, does the risk of potential breakdowns and more missed games outweigh matching a possible six-year deal worth $6 million-plus per season that might be dangled out there?
Right now, the Rangers' interest in Ladd is speculative, but Sather should inquire before other teams beat them to the punch. Adding Ladd would strengthen the Rangers, and it would give him a realistic replacement for Callahan for the next two years.
Two years from now, J.T. Miller should be an NHL player, and he could step in and potentially fill the role currently occupied by Callahan.
An acquisition of Ladd would also allow Sather to sell high on his captain, and a deadline deal could help the Rangers at the 2014 draft and improve the prospect pool. Simply put, whenever there is an opportunity to improve your roster and save some cap space in the process, there is no reason not to pick up the phone.
As previously stated, the interest in Ladd is speculative, but with more and more sources such as Pierre LeBrun of TSN are suggesting that the Rangers could not re-sign Callahan, there is some credence to the notion that they would consider dealing for him.
Ladd is a great player, and it is fair to say that he would look even better in Ranger blue. The trade deadline may be 44 days away, but it is never too early to start preparing for the playoffs.