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Chicago Blackhawks

Andrew Ladd to Test Free Agency

USATSI_9265924_154158418_lowresAndrew Ladd doesn’t think he’ll be back with the Chicago Blackhawks next season.

The 30-year-old forward was traded from the Winnipeg Jets to the Blackhawks on February 25 and now he’s saying there’s a chance he could be back in Manitoba for the 2016-2017 season.

“When we spoke after the season, [Chicago] said it would be tough,” Ladd said. “The likelihood is they don’t have the (NHL salary cap) room to make it work…This weird feeling, the waiting game. It’s new to me. I honestly don’t know what will happen.”

In 19 regular seasons with the Blackhawks, Ladd posted eight goals and four assists. He had a goal and an assist in Chicago’s seven-game playoff run.

Prior to joining the Blackhawks, Ladd served as the team captain for the Jets for the past six seasons. He played 429 games with the Winnipeg/Atlanta franchise and posted 305 points, including 139 goals. He has two Stanley Cups under his belt, one with the Blackhawks in 2010 and one with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006.

And now, there are possibilities.

“I’ve said since I left [Winnipeg] I would never close the door,” Ladd said. “We enjoyed our time there. We’ll see if that’s an option. It takes two willing combatants.”

The Blackhawks have put themselves in a position to rent over the past few seasons, but they can’t really afford to dedicate much cash to players like Ladd. They still have restricted free agent Andrew Shaw to contend with and there isn’t a lot of cap flexibility in the market. They’ve committed to their core, so it’s hardly surprising to see Ladd on the way out after just a few months.

But there are some NHL teams that can compete and that’s where his attention will head.

Some have pointed to Vancouver as a possible option and indeed he could offer the Canucks a few good years of quality hockey. He’s still a viable point-producer and he’s good in the room, but his asking price could put a few teams out of the running.

Right now, Ladd is saying he wants to head to a contender. Vancouver doesn’t exactly fit the bill and the Jets are arguably in a better position to challenge for it all. Whether or not the two parties can get something done remains to be seen, of course, but one has to imagine Winnipeg would welcome him back with open arms.

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