The Winnipeg Jets have been listening to offers for Andrew Ladd at the trading deadline, and the best move for the future of the team might be to trade the captain.
UPDATE: The Jets have traded Andrew Ladd to the Blackhawks.
Ladd has great leadership ability, but with the winger heading toward free agency and potentially leaving the team, the Jets should make a move over risking losing Ladd for nothing. They have reportedly made efforts to try and sign Ladd to a new extension, but the team is "weighing options" about trading him as the deadline gets closer, according to Pierre LeBrun at ESPN.
LeBrun writes that the team has players like Jacob Trouba and Mark Scheifele to sign this offseason as restricted free agents, and that could limit the money the Jets have for Ladd. Ladd has been one of the top targets at the trade deadline, and there are some contenders that could step up for a deal. The Jets have been listening to offers from teams, and clubs like the Chicago Blackhawks, Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins are interested in Ladd, according to TSN.
Gary Lawless reports that at least one team has offered a first round pick and a top prospect for Ladd, and that appears to be the asking price from Winnipeg heading into the deadline. Some teams have looked at that as too high of a price, including the Florida Panthers. The team is very motivated to add some help up front at the deadline, but Florida is "cooling" on Ladd as an option, according to George Richards at the Miami Herald. The Panthers feel that dealing a high pick and a prospect is too much for a player that "would likely be a rental."
The Blackhawks remain an option for the Jets, as the team has been looking to make an addition at the deadline at the forward position, according to the Chicago-Sun Times. The team wants someone to play on their top line and Ladd fits that profile. General manager Stan Bowman reportedly watched the Jets play against the Stars, and he also was at the Montreal Canadiens game against the Predators earlier in the week.
The Jets still have time to re-sign Ladd, but if a deal doesn't materialize in the next few days, trading him may be the only logical option. If the team can't sign Ladd now, it's unlikely that they will be able to keep him once he hits the open market this summer. The Jets are better off long-term at getting what they can for Ladd over potentially losing him for nothing when he becomes a free agent.
It's always hard to trade a fan-favorite, especially when that player is a captain, but for the Jets, it could be the best move to make with Ladd. The trade deadline is Feb. 29 at 3 p.m. ET.