It's looking like Andrew Ladd's second stint with the Chicago Blackhawks will indeed come to an end after just a few months. The Hawks recently informed Ladd, an unrestricted free agent, that it's likely "they don't have the [salary cap] room to make it work," according to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman.
Ladd spoke with Friedman over the phone and gave the hint that we largely expected was coming. The veteran was acquired from the Winnipeg Jets before the trade deadline as a rental. While there were whispers about the two sides wanting to stick together after being forced apart due to the salary cap years ago, it appears a similar situation will play out this summer with Ladd heading elsewhere.
"When we spoke after the season, they said it would be tough," Ladd said during a phone conversation on Tuesday. "The likelihood is they don't have the room to make it work."
Retaining Ladd would be great, but as we've ran into countless times over the past few years, the Hawks' salary cap constraints are forcing difficult decisions. With restricted free agent Andrew Shaw still unsigned (among others) and a general lack of cap flexibility looming over the summer, re-signing Ladd was always an unlikely proposition given that he's likely angling for his last big lucrative contract in the NHL.
Ladd says there's more to the situation than money, but that's likely what will keep him from the Hawks. "Can the family go somewhere where my wife and kids enjoy life? That’s a big element. From my standpoint, I want to win and compete for a Cup," he said. However, money tends to be the ultimate deciding factor in these things, and the Hawks won't be able to come close to the competing offers from other teams without blowing up their roster.
Ladd recorded eight goals and four assists in 19 regular-season games with the Hawks in 2015-16 after being acquired in exchange for Marko Dano and a first-round pick. Combined with his stats in Winnipeg, he had 25 goals and 21 assists in 78 games. The winger also had one goal and one assist in the Hawks' seven-game series against St. Louis, although you know he's having flashbacks about that double-post shot that bounced out and helped the Blues secure a Game 3 win.