Most players drafted into the NHL dream of making a career with one team, but for most, that isn’t the case. When fans think of long-time Carolina Hurricanes players, they think of Cam Ward, Eric Staal, Glen Wesley, and Rod Brind’Amour — the latter two had their numbers retired by the franchise — and all of these players had brief stints with other franchises in their careers, even if it was for one season.
These four watched many players come and go over the years; some stayed for several seasons while others wore the red sweater for a short time. In this series, we look back at those players whose short stint with the club may have been forgotten.
In the sixth installment of Forgotten Carolina Hurricanes, we’ll look at a man who was drafted by the Hurricanes and went on to win his first Stanley Cup with the team. Four years later he would win the second cup of his career with the Blackhawks. This player is none other than Andrew Ladd.
Andrew Joseph Ladd was born on Dec. 12, 1985, in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada. He started his hockey career with the Port Coquitlam Buckaroos of the Pacific Junior Hockey League. In 42 games, he had 37 points, divided between 15 goals and 22 assists. The next season he would play with the Coquitlam Express of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL). With the Express, he had 15 goals and 40 assists, impressing enough to make it onto the roster of the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) Calgary Hitmen.
In his first season with the Hitmen, he had 75 points in 71 games. His rookie WHL season also saw him earning a plus-39, leading the league in plus/minus and getting him the WHL Plus-Minus Award. These stats got the attention of the Carolina Hurricanes and the team drafted him fourth overall in the 2004 Entry Draft. The 2004-05 season saw the NHL lock-out, and thankfully for Ladd, he was still eligible to play in the WHL. In his final season with the Hitmen, he got 45 points in 65 games.
Making it to the Big Leagues
Ladd didn’t immediately start playing in Raleigh following the lock-out. He began the 2005-06 season with the Lowell Lock Monsters of the American Hockey League (AHL). He got his first chance to play with the Hurricanes in November 2005 when defensemen Niclas Wallin was placed on injured reserve, until a knee injury sidelined Ladd from December until February.
He proved himself and stayed with the team until the 2006 Olympic break. Between November and February, he played in 17 games and had six goals and two assists. Ladd played during the Olympic break with Lowell, and returned to the Hurricanes lineup when play resumed in March.
He would add three more assists to end the regular season before the Hurricanes went into the postseason. Ladd played in 17 postseason games, notching two goals and three assists. In his rookie season, Ladd would get something most players spend their years trying to achieve, the Stanley Cup.
The next season, he would secure a full-time spot on the NHL roster, but for a second straight December, he had an injury that would sideline him for several weeks. Instead of a knee injury, December 2006 brought an emergency appendectomy. Regardless, he still played in 65 games and had 21 points.
Windy City Wins
The next season changed Ladd’s career and put him on the path towards another Cup. For the first half of the 2007-08 season, he played with the Hurricanes, he had nine goals and nine assists in 43 games. On Feb. 26, 2008, Jim Rutherford and the Hurricanes traded Ladd to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Tuomo Ruutu.
The following season, Ladd played in 82 games, scoring 15 goals and 34 assists during the regular season. The postseason saw the Blackhawks losing in the Western Conference Final to the Detroit Red Wings. The 2009-10 season was vastly different for Ladd and the Blackhawks. In the Western Conference Final, they swept the San Jose Sharks and would beat the Philadelphia Flyers in six games to bring the Stanley Cup back to Chicago and get Ladd’s name on the Cup for a second time. For Ladd, it was his second Cup in four years, but for the Blackhawks, it was their first Cup in 49 years.
On July 1, 2010, Ladd was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers for Ivan Vishnevskiy and a Round 2 pick in the 2011 Entry Draft. In his only season in Atlanta, Ladd had a career-high 29 goals in 81 games, and was named captain that year. In 2011-12, the Thrashers made the move to Winnipeg, and the new city would bring Ladd some of his best NHL seasons. Over the next four seasons, he amassed 93 goals, 119 assists, and 212 points. In the 2015-16 season, he would score 24 goals and 38 assists for a career-high 62 points.
Even though he was achieving in Winnipeg, he was traded back to the Chicago Blackhawks on Feb. 25, 2016, along with Matt Fraser and former Hurricane, Jay Harrison. He finished out the season skating alongside former teammate, Jonathan Toews on the first line, and he scored eight goals and four assists in 19 games.
On July 1, 2016, he was signed by the New York Islanders during free agency. With the Islanders not performing well during the first half of the season, coach Jack Capuano was fired and replaced by Ladd’s former Hurricanes teammate, Doug Weight. Together, Weight and Ladd were on the 2006 Hurricanes team, and during his first months with the team it looked like Ladd was going to continue to star. In January, he had eight goals and four assists in 40 games, but under Weight he notched 15 goals in the next 38 games.
The Islanders still did not make it to the playoffs, and the following seasons only saw more of a decline in Ladd’s playing. He would play one more full season in the NHL before getting assigned to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the AHL affiliate of the Islanders. It’s where he spent the next two seasons.
After five seasons with the Islanders, Ladd was traded to the Arizona Coyotes along with draft picks. In 28 games with the Coyotes, he has five goals and three assists. The Coyotes themselves are having a lackluster year between problems with their home arena and having a record of 8-24-4 with a mere 20 points this season. The only team below them in the standings are the Montreal Canadians with a 7-24-5 record and 19 points.
Outside of Hockey
Ladd has been married to his wife Brandy since 2011 and together the couple have three children. Brandy is a doctor of optometry and was a Board Member for the Winnipeg Jets True North Foundation during Ladd’s time with the team. Together, the duo head up the Ladd Foundation.
The Ladd Foundation’s mission is to give youth access to resources that will support their health and wellbeing. It is a 16-week mental, physical, and social wellbeing experience that blends real-life stories and on-ice drills from NHL players with proven research-based curriculum and tools. This is done through their primary initiative of 1616.
The Ladd’s are also advocates for the Special Olympics. For Ladd, he grew up alongside family members who had special needs.
“My one adopted brother has fetal alcohol syndrome and the other has numerous physical and mental disabilities. My uncle had down syndrome. Growing up, I didn’t think of them as having disadvantages,” Ladd explains. “As I got older, I understood their disabilities and appreciated what they had to overcome on a daily basis. They never judged anyone, always had smiles on their faces and were always willing to help others. They all had a massive impact on not only how I approached hockey, but life as well.”–Andrew Ladd, the Ladd Foundation
Whether it is on or off the ice, Ladd has proven himself to be a leader and a person who others to look up to. It’s not that often that a player gets named captain during his first year with a team, but he showed what he is capable of. Time will tell as to how his career will turn out with the Coyotes, but with two Stanley Cups to his name, Ladd has achieved the dream of every NHL player.
On her previous stint with The Hockey Writers, Casey covered the Tampa Bay Lightning, but she has returned to take on the Carolina Hurricanes. Even though she is Steel City born, a former season ticker member with the Lightning, and lives in Orlando, the Canes have always been her favourite team. She started her hockey career as Keeper of Time for the California University of Pennsylvania Vulcan Hockey Club while going to school for Sport Management. She hopes to one day work with Hockey Ministries International as a team chaplain. You can usually find her tweeting about hockey or posting pictures on Instagram.