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Ladd's fantasy value soars with Blackhawks

Fills void on Toews line; monitor Jets' Dano

by Pete Jensen @NHLJensen / NHL.com Fantasy Insider

Andrew Ladd is back with the Chicago Blackhawks, making an already dominant roster even more dangerous -- in fantasy and reality. 

The Blackhawks traded Marko Dano to the Winnipeg Jets in a package that landed the forward who helped them win the Stanley Cup in 2010 -- their first of three championships in the past six seasons. Ladd, a pending unrestricted free agent who ranks 168th in Yahoo's standard-league rankings, can revitalize his fantasy stock with his former team.

If you already scored Ladd (LW, 81 percent owned in Yahoo) via fantasy trade after reading our forward UFA outlook leading up to the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline, give yourself a round of applause. Ladd, who has underachieved with 34 points in 59 games with the Jets this season, becomes a must-own player in all formats after the deal, as he'll likely slot onto a line with Jonathan Toews and Andrew Shaw to complement Chicago's top trio of Patrick Kane, Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov.  

Once Marian Hossa returns from injury, expect to see a trio of Ladd, Toews and Hossa at even strength -- as ridiculous of a second unit as you'll find in the entire NHL. Ladd also has an opportunity to play on the Blackhawks' first power-play unit with Kane, Duncan Keith and Co. Shaw (RW, 22 percent owned) should play with Toews and Ladd until Hossa returns, but his power-play usage should take a hit (1:58 of power-play ice time per game this season) immediately as a result of the trade. Once Hossa is back, Shaw should move back to his usual third-line role. 

The Blackhawks normally employ two defensemen, Keith and Brent Seabrook, on their top power-play unit. Kane leads the NHL with 30 power-play points, but only one other Blackhawks forward (Panarin, 15) has more than 10. Ladd offers a fresh look to their top man-advantage unit and strengthens Chicago's depth for their final 19 games and, of course, the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

Ladd finished 26th among all fantasy players in 2014-15, covering all six standard categories. The big difference in his stat line this season is plus-minus, as his ratio dipped from plus-9 to minus-10. Still, Ladd's coverage is among the League's best -- especially if you're in a hits format. 

He has 126 hits this season, his third straight season of more than 100. If your league counts penalty minutes, don't forget he was one of three players League-wide with 60 or more points, 15 or more PPP, 70 or more PIMs and 200 or more SOG last season. He boosted his trade value in his past three games, posting four goals and 12 SOG, and now has a chance to play for a new contract as Chicago gears up for another deep postseason run. 

As for the Jets, they have turned the page on Ladd's captaincy by acquiring draft picks and a coveted prospect in Dano (C/RW, 2 percent owned). He was projected to crack the Blackhawks' top-nine forward group after being traded there this offseason from the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Brandon Saad deal, but has spent much of the season in the American Hockey League. 

Upon joining the Jets, who lost Bryan Little for the rest of the season because of injury, Dano has been recalled and could play meaningful minutes with 22 games remaining in Winnipeg's season. Even without Little, the Jets' forward group has an array of options with top-25 fantasy asset Blake Wheeler, young center Mark Scheifele, power-play specialist Mathieu Perreault and promising rookies Nikolaj Ehlers and Joel Armia.  

If you're in a deep and/or keeper league and have little to choose from these days on the waiver wire, add Dano now in the hope that he gets a top-six trial after being summoned. If you're in a standard Yahoo league, put him on your watch list and monitor his early usage. While there's a late glimmer of hope to his 2015-16 season, his true value lies in the long term.

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