[UPDATE: The Chicago Blackhawks have acquired Andrew Ladd. Moving on!]
Andrew Ladd doesn't get a lot of time in the spotlight. He plays in Winnipeg. He has two Stanley Cup rings, but you don't know that unless you looked it up. In his most notable season, 2009-10, he was the eighth-leading scorer on a stacked Blackhawks team and got traded shortly after the Cup run. He was made captain immediately... in Atlanta. Even now, after five and a half years as a captain and 453 career points, he's one of the least celebrated captains in the NHL. (If you'd taken this quiz three months ago, would you have come up with Ladd?) Now, though, he's getting all the hype, because he's the player every contender wants. The irony is that it's in a bit of an off year for him, but if a 46-point pace is an off year, a lot of teams will take a chance that he can find that on switch before the playoffs. He's also fallen back a bit in terms of possession after a strong 2014-15, but that can largely be chalked up to a teamwide decline in Corsi For%, and slightly chalked up to more difficult zone starts.
In other words: Ladd has declined a bit this year, but he's still a definite upgrade to any team's roster. Ladd's biggest advantage, especially compared to many of the other potential targets, is that he's a bona fide top six forward. With Winnipeg, he's a bona fide top three forward, as he, Brian Little, and Blake Wheeler are the trio leading Winnipeg in goals, points, and ice time. (That Nikolaj Ehlers kid will be up there soon.) His 20 even strength points don't sound very impressive, but that puts him right in between Tyler Toffoli and Jeff Carter. And if you explain that he's 6'3", weighs 205 lbs, had over 200 hits last season, and hasn't shot below 10% in a full season since 2008-09, you'll understand why Dean Lombardi is probably searching his couch for pocket change that he can bribe Winnipeg GM Kevin Cheveldayoff with.
Because there's no doubt that the Los Angeles Kings would find a place for this big left winger, and that place would probably be alongside Jeff Carter or Anze Kopitar. There's very little chance the Kings could sign him unless they let Lucic walk, so this is a pure rental, but that doesn't mean he'll come cheap. As mentioned, Ladd is at the center of the juiciest trade rumors this year, and any deal that doesn't include a first-round pick and a prospect isn't going to cut it. So consider the 2017 first-rounder as good as gone, and start with Adrian Kempe or Valentin Zykov. Given LA's glut of left wingers, they might an NHL left winger the other way, and they'd probably need to include Tanner Pearson to win out. Even with Pearson in the Jets' lineup, are they willing to wait 3-4 years for the rest of the return to pay off, or would they look for a 2016 first-rounder elsewhere?
Regardless, the Kings will have to pay a hefty price if they want a few months of Andrew Ladd. If they can do it for anything less than Pearson and a 1st, the temporary upgrade could pay off in spades.