A first glance at Andrew Ladd’s statistics might leave you a bit underwhelmed. It might also leave you a bit worried: after scoring 15 and 17 goals the previous two seasons, Ladd exploded for 29 last year. He was then signed to a deal through 2016 with a $4.4 million cap hit. Surely Winnipeg was just paying a guy for his best year, right?
Oddly enough, while Ladd’s overall totals went up, his scoring rate decreased at even strength. He was at 2.11 points per 60 minutes his final year in Chicago and at 1.85 last year. His goal scoring rate also decreased, going from .97 per 60 minutes to .87 last year.
So Ladd’s not a great scorer. Then what is he? Well for one he has had a great Corsi number the past few years. Last year it was 4.3 (aka the Thrashers had 4.3 more shot attempts when he was on the ice vs. off it). He also had a very good CorsiRel of 9.5, meaning he was worth 9.5 more shots than your average Thrasher.
Perhaps even more importantly were the type of minutes he played. Ladd’s offensive zone start% of 50.6% was roughly around the NHL average, but it was 3rd lowest among Thrasher forwards. So his good Corsi numbers weren’t due to him getting soft minutes.
Nor were they due to him getting to play against soft competition. His QualComp was the highest among all Thrasher forwards last year, and yet his Corsi Rel was still second best. Ladd has established himself as one of the best forwards in hockey, a guy who is able to play against the toughest competition the other team has to offer and can still control the play.
Last year Ladd’s goal scoring rate was identical to Phil Kessel. It was comparable to Dustin Penner. Those two have cap hits of $5.4 million and $4.25 million. He also plays as well against tougher competition than Ryan Kesler, who has a cap hit of $5 million.
You might balk at paying a guy who scores more like a 2nd liner first line type money. But you shouldn’t.