CHICAGO -- Nearly a year after the Chicago Blackhawks bolstered their lineup near the NHL Trade Deadline, they did it again Thursday by trading to re-acquire forward Andrew Ladd from the Winnipeg Jets.
The defending Stanley Cup champions acquired Ladd, who played for the Blackhawks from 2007-10, forward Matt Fraser and defenseman Jay Harrison for forward prospect Marko Dano, a first-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, and a conditional pick in the 2018 NHL Draft that's contingent on how the Blackhawks do in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Ladd, 30, is the centerpiece for the Blackhawks, who traded him to the Atlanta Thrashers (Jets) after he helped Chicago win the 2010 Stanley Cup. He will play left wing on the top line, which has captain Jonathan Toews at center and Marian Hossa at right wing when he's healthy.
Video: Stan Bowman on trading for Andrew Ladd
"Knowing that I was probably going to end up being traded, I think Chicago was probably at the top of my list of places I wanted to be, just because of familiarity with the organization and guys I knew on the team would make it an easy transition for me," Ladd said. "Regardless of who I get to play with, you're going to a team that has a chance to win the Stanley Cup, and that's always an exciting prospect for anyone."
Last Feb. 28, the Blackhawks acquired forward Antoine Vermette prior to the trade deadline and went on to win their third Stanley Cup in six seasons.
"We're thrilled," Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said during the first intermission of Chicago's 3-1 loss to the Nashville Predators at United Center on Thursday. "Obviously [Andrew] knows how to win. He's won twice before, in Carolina (2006) and Chicago. The big thing for us is just the familiarity that he has with not only our coaching staff, but our players. He's maintained a friendship with a number of our players, and that's important. He's a guy you want to go to war with. He knows what it's like to be here with our group, and we're really excited."
Ladd, who was Jets captain, had 17 goals and 34 points in 59 games. He had 139 goals and 305 points in 429 games over six seasons with the Jets franchise, and 37 goals and 99 points in 184 regular-season games with the Blackhawks.
Winnipeg general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff, an assistant GM for Bowman in Chicago, fielded offers on Ladd when he was unable to negotiate a new contract with the pending unrestricted free agent. Cheveldayoff instead signed defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, another former Blackhawks player from 2010, to a five-year contract on Feb. 8.
Ladd said that's when he started to realize a trade was a possibility.
"That's kind of when I got the sense that [a new contract] probably wasn't going to happen, and then you sort of start thinking and hoping you're going to go to a place that has a chance to win," Ladd said. "Chicago was at the top of my list for sure, so I'm excited to have the opportunity to go back there and win a Stanley Cup again."
Bowman said he isn't concerned if Ladd's stay is short-term. The GM said he was happy to add a veteran forward to the lineup, similar to the way he added Vermette, who had three game-winning goals in the 2015 playoffs.
"I talked to [Cheveldayoff] maybe a month ago and I just mentioned if he ever gets to the point where he decides he's going to maybe move Andrew, that we were definitely a team that wanted to bring him back," Bowman said. "He brings so much to the table. Just his competitiveness ... he's a very versatile player. He's played a big role in Winnipeg the last few years there. On their team he does it all. He plays on the power play, the penalty kill, [and] plays a lot of minutes 5-on-5. He brings a lot of leadership to the group."
Chicago acquired Dano, 21, and center Artem Anisimov in an offseason trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Blackhawks sent a package of players to the Blue Jackets that was headlined by left wing Brandon Saad, who helped Chicago win the Stanley Cup in 2013 and 2015.
Saad played with Toews and Hossa last season. His presence was never fully replaced, despite forward Andrew Shaw's solid play in that role since being promoted there after Christmas break.
Video: Breaking News, Chicago Blackhawks acquire Andrew Ladd
Shaw has 11 goals and 31 points in 63 games. The addition of Ladd is expected to move Shaw back to the third line, which has lacked scoring depth most of the season.
"It's a great acquisition, knowing there's a lot of familiarity," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "I'm sure his old teammates are pretty excited in a lot of ways. He brings the intangibles that you look for, experience, knows his way around our team and in Chicago as well. We talked at the beginning of the year, there's a real nice spot on that left side with [Toews] and [Hossa], and it looks like he'll fit perfectly there."
Dano had the inside track on making the Blackhawks roster and playing on the top line when training camp started, but he quickly fell out of favor with Quenneville and had one goal and one assist in 13 games with Chicago. Dano had four goals and 23 points in 34 games with Rockford of the American Hockey League.
Bowman said it was tough to give up Dano plus the draft picks, but Ladd was worth the price.
"It's always hard to do," Bowman said. "I think the challenge is trying to weigh what's it going to take to get the deal done, and at the end of the day there's so many things when you're going down the checklist of things Andrew brings to the table, he checks off all the boxes. The fact he's been with our group of coaches and players and core players before, he understands what it takes to win and we felt it made sense to try and give this group a boost.
"I think that's the other part of it, is just try to demonstrate we have a lot of faith in the group we have here, and we're excited and want to do everything we can to put things in place to make a long [playoff] run."
Fraser, 25, and Harrison, 33, will report to Rockford.
Bowman said he will be content if this is his only deadline trade. Chicago hopes to get injured center Marcus Kruger (left wrist fracture) back for the playoffs, and could get Hossa (lower body) back as soon as next week.
"There's still a few days to go [before the deadline]," Bowman said. "So it's our job to continue to look and see if there's anything that makes sense to improve the team. If it doesn't change from where we are now, I really like the group we have. I think it's a nice mixture."