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Jets make a big splash, deal Ladd to Blackhawks for Dano, first-round pick

by Ryan Dittrick (@ryandittrick) / Winnipeg Jets


DALLAS, Texas – The Winnipeg Jets have made a splash in the NHL trade market, dealing captain Andrew Ladd, along with farmhands Jay Harrison and Matt Fraser to the Chicago Blackhawks for forward prospect Marko Dano, a first-round draft choice and a conditional pick in the 2018 draft.

“I’ve had many conversations over the last couple weeks with Andrew’s representatives and I certainly understood where they sat in the marketplace,” General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said. “It was a decision that we didn’t take lightly and we as an organization can’t thank Andrew enough for what he’s done and how he’s handled himself, even after today when I talked to him, how professional he was. You don’t just replace your captain, but I think this group will forge ahead, work hard, and other leaders will emerge.”

The trade was consummated just prior to tonight’s game in Dallas, where the Jets picked up a 6-3 victory. Head Coach Paul Maurice became aware of the trade about two hours before puck drop. When it eventually completed about 15 minutes before warmup, the team had a moment to say goodbye before going to battle without No. 16.

“We didn’t try to rush him out of the room to get the guys to focus solely on the game. He’s been here too long, has meant so much, the friendships too strong,” Maurice said. “Especially in a Canadian city, that ‘C’ means something. There’s a huge responsibility that goes with it. Being the face of the franchise and dealing with the media after some tough years and some tough
stretches. … This year he’s handled it as well as a man could.

“Just a fine, fine gentleman. He was a hell of a captain for us.”

The Jets will retain 36 percent of Ladd’s remaining salary.

“(Blackhawks General Manager) Stan (Bowman) reached out and said if you ever get to that point of moving him – as did many general managers – that was something he wanted to be a part of. We had some conversations and today was obviously a very busy day. I would say the bulk of the
work transpired over the last 24 hours.”

The 27th pick in the 2013 Draft, Dano has spent much of the year with Chicago’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Central Division-leading Rockford IceHogs, where he accumulated four goals
and 23 points in 34 games.

The 21-year-old has appeared in 13 games with the Hawks this season, recording a goal, an assist and two penalty minutes. In 48 career games (35 with the Columbus Blue Jackets, who drafted
him), he has nine goals, 23 points and 16 penalty minutes.

“He’s a young player that fits the direction of where we want to go,” Cheveldayoff said. “He goes to the hard areas; he can play up and down the lineup. Certainly all young players will have to earn their way into the higher echelons of the lineup, but I had the fortune of watching a few of his
games last year when he was in Columbus, and was able to see what he brought to the
table.

“He’s excited about being a part of our organization and getting a chance to play. Obviously Chicago is a deep organization, and they were maybe looking at replacing some (veterans) with some of those players as time went on. But their window is right now.”

For the second straight year, the Jets will have two selections in the first round of the NHL Draft. The team used the 17th and 25th picks last year to select Kyle Connor and Jack Roslovic, respectively.

Dano is expected to join the team tomorrow in Pittsburgh. Jay Harrison and Matt Fraser, meanwhile, have spent the entire season with the Manitoba Moose and will immediately report to Rockford, according to the Blackhawks.

Ladd, who won the Stanley Cup with the Hawks back in 2010, is set to become an unrestricted free agent on Jul. 1. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound winger had a career high 62 points (24G, 38A) in 81 games last year, despite playing much of the season with a painful sports hernia that required off-season surgery. He was on pace for another strong campaign with 17 goals and 34 points this year,
finishing with four goals in his last three games as a Jet.

“It was Ladd-Little-Wheeler there for a long time,” Blake Wheeler, one of Ladd’s best friends and equal part of the Jets’ leadership group, said following Thursday’s game. “He’s meant a lot to me on the ice, he’s meant a lot to me as a friend. He was someone I could look up to and learn a lot from. … He’s such a pro in the way that he does things. I look up to him a lot, with what it took to take my game to the next level. I owe a lot to Laddy. I’m going to miss him. It’s tough to swallow, so
selfishly I wish he was still here sitting next to me.”

The Maple Ridge, British Columbia product was the team’s captain for all five years in Winnipeg, and is fifth in the franchise’s all-time scoring list, recording 305 points in 429 games. The Jets have yet to name a new captain, but that is something that will be discussed between Cheveldayoff and Head Coach Paul Maurice in the next little while.

Dustin Byfuglien wore an ‘A’ as an alternate captain tonight in absence of the ‘C.’

“He’s a special person,” Cheveldayoff said. “There were lots of ups and downs, but the thing I’ll remember most was the opportunity to give him a hug the night we clinched a playoff spot. He was special for that group of guys and special for the overall development of the organization.”

Chris Thorburn, who is one of Ladd's chums off the ice, was sad to a good buddy go, saying tonight's game was the most difficult he's ever played.

"Being with a guy for that long, there’s a lot of memories, a lot of good things. I’m sad to see him go," he said. "[I'll miss] everything. He’s a great person, a great player. Most importantly he’s a great friend. And not just to me – everyone here. ... He left a lot of good things behind, some qualities we can all learn from."

The NHL trade deadline is this Monday at 2:00pm CT. Asked whether or not the Jets would be active between now and then, Cheveldayoff said his group will look at anything they can to help push the organization forward.

“A deal like this might do some things for the marketplace as far as setting some things in motion. At this point we’ll re-group as a staff … and we’ll look at the different options that may present themselves.”

– Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com

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