Andrew Ladd, the most sought-after available forward heading into the NHL trading deadline, is going home – in a way.
Ladd, the Winnipeg Jets captain, was traded to his former team, the Chicago Blackhawks, Thursday night in the biggest predeadline deal so far. In exchange, the Jets land an intriguing prospect in Marko Dano, plus a 2016 first-round draft choice.
Dano was one of the primary prospects Chicago landed from Columbus in last year's trade for Brandon Saad. But he proved to be a poor fit on the Blackhawks and spent most of the season in the minors. He is, however, a high-energy forward and a former first-round pick who could replace some of the grit that Winnipeg lost with Ladd's departure.
To complete the deal, the Jets also sent a pair of minor-leaguers, Matt Fraser and Jay Harrison, to the Blackhawks; they were immediately assigned to the team's AHL affiliate in Rockford, Ill. According to reports, Winnipeg also gets a conditional third-round pick in 2018 if the Blackhawks win the Cup.
Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman told the Chicago Sun-Times that Ladd's familiarity with the city, the organization and the coaching staff was a contributing factor in the decision to pursue him.
"He's maintained a friendship with a number of our players, and that's important," Bowman said. "He's a guy you want to go to war with."
Ladd is a pending unrestricted free agent, and depending upon how cash-strapped Chicago fares in the playoffs, he may be strictly a rental. Ladd played for the Blackhawks on their 2010 Stanley Cup team, after also winning a championship with the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes. He figures to slot in on the top line, alongside Jonathan Toews, especially with Toews's usual linemate, Marian Hossa, out with an injury.
In 59 games this season, Ladd scored 17 goals and 17 assists for Winnipeg.