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Draft Flashback: Andrew Ladd

by Adam Kempenaar and Brad Boron / Chicago Blackhawks
What is the NHL Entry Draft like for the players going through the process? Blackhawks winger Andrew Ladd, drafted fourth overall in 2004 by the Carolina Hurricanes, recently talked to about the combine, draft day and more.

When you think back to your draft day, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?

I just remember days of wondering where I was going to get drafted and begin my career.

At what point did you really start thinking the draft and begin playing toward that goal?

Well, for me it was a little bit different. It was my first year in the WHL and I was just so excited to be there. After the first Central Scouting rankings came out, I was ranked #104, and it got me really thinking about the draft. It’s something that you dream about and look forward to.
Andrew Ladd stands with Carolina Hurricanes executives after being drafted in 2004.

But you really shot up as the season went on. What number were you in the final Central Scouting rankings?

I was the #1-ranked North American skater. I just kind of went up and up and up throughout the season. It was really amazing to see the climb during the year.

What do you remember about the combine process?

It’s a tough thing to go through really. If you have a long season, it’s even worse because you have such a short time to get ready for the combine. It’s an intense process, not just physically, but also all of the meetings that you have to go through. It’s really nerve-wracking getting thrown into a room with a bunch of GMs and scouts and being asked a lot of questions.

It was a lock that Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin were going to go first and second overall that year. What were your personal expectations?

I was expecting to go in the top ten, but I wasn’t quite sure where exactly. I was pretty sure that Barks (Cam Barker) was going to go third overall to the Hawks, and after that it would be based on what skills each team was interested in. Carolina wound up trading up for me, so that was pretty exciting.

So your only real disappointment would have been if you had fallen out of the top ten?

Yeah, I think so. I mean, after those top couple of guys the draft was really wide open. But I think I would have been disappointed if I fell out of the top ten.

Was it fun having Cam and yourself -- two Western Hockey League players -- go back-to-back?

We had the same agent, so we had gotten to know each other a little bit throughout the process. It was really neat to see Cam go that early and then for me to go right after him.

Cam Barker (L) and Andrew Ladd throw out the first pitch at the USA vs. Canada baseball game before the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.

The draft was in Carolina that year, and you got a pretty good reception from the crowd when the Hurricanes made the pick as I recall. That had to make you feel pretty good.

Yeah, it was pretty cool. Just being in that building when the home team was picking, and to be selected -- not an opportunity a lot of guys get.

There were nine WHL players selected in the first round that year, and three from your Calgary Hitmen team alone. What was it like seeing some of the guys you played with and against go that high?

It was definitely fun seeing the guys from Calgary. I think that year we had five players from the team get drafted. We were all pretty excited with that.

Were there any other guys you were really following?

Well, just guys who you know and who you grow up with. You watch for guys on your team and hope they get picked.

I had a couple of buddies I went to high school with, but that was about it. I played with my cousin, Steve Covington, in Calgary and he wound up going to Detroit (226th overall), and another friend I had, Brandon Yip, was drafted by Colorado (239th overall). The guys you grew up with and played with your whole life are the guys who you really watch for.

Who did you have with you at the draft?

My parents, my brothers, my grandpa and my trainer. They all flew with me to Raleigh. That’s definitely one of the best parts about being drafted: having all of the people who were a big part of your development and your life there when your name is called.

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