The Penguins have scouted three of the Winnipeg Jets last six games and winger [hide] Andrew Ladd is a player the Penguins plan to look into as the trade deadline is five weeks away.

Several of the bigger names out there the Penguins are having discussions internally about have cap hits in the neighborhood of $4.5 million or lower. Ladd a free agent at seasons end carries a cap hit of $4.4 million.

Pittsburgh currently has around $2.1 million in cap space.

With Ladd’s production down, 10 goals and 27 points, pro scouts from many teams including the Penguins have been keeping close tabs on Ladd to see whether he’s showing signs of a declining player at age 30 or is just having a down year on a bad hockey team.

Once considered a near lock to resign with the Winnipeg Jets, Ladd is now considered likely to be traded with a stronger chance of the Jets keeping Dustin Byfuglien, Gary Lawless of TSN reported today. Lawless well connected with the Jets organization reports things have reached the point where the Jets now have to move their captain Ladd.

Ladd has often been a favorite of many in the Penguins organization and was the Hurricanes 4th overall pick in the 2004 draft. He played three seasons for Rutherford, winning a Stanley Cup in 2006 with Carolina and also winning a Cup in 2010 with the Hawks. In 2008 in what ended up being a typical Rutherford move, he traded Ladd for a more established player at the time in Tuomo Ruutu. In two seasons Ladd would emerge as a 29 goal scorer in 2010.

Under Ray Shero the Penguins pursued a trade for Ladd during the 2013-2014 season before they set their sights on trying to acquire Ryan Kesler. Some in the front office who were there then, Jason Botterill and Bill Guerin among, also remain.

Ladd has often been viewed by those in the organization as a Bill Guerin type they have lacked for years, others have seen him as a long-term replacement for Chris Kunitz and as one team source put it, perfect type of linemate for Sidney Crosby.

The problem is Ladd’s asking price to keep him long-term and questions whether the Penguins are even a trade match. He was seeking a six year, $40 million deal from the Jets. Any deal over four years you’ll be paying for a slew of down years.

Despite Ladd’s production being down, the Jets are surely likely still going to net a top prospect and a first round pick for him. Pittsburgh is not eligible to trade (if they miss post-season) their 2016 first round pick until after the season as it is tied to the Phil Kessel trade.

If Dustin Byfuglien gets resigned, executives believe the Jets will look to land a high-end forward prospect for Ladd.

The Florida Panthers are among the teams expected to make a big run at Ladd prior to the deadline.[/hide]


Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reported over the weekend the Lightning are believed to have offered Steven Stamkos an eight year extension worth $68 million ($8.5 AAV). There is no way Don Meehan and his group at Newport Sports are going to let Stamkos settle for anything under $10 million per season. Most continue to believe the two sides are headed towards a divorce. Where does Stamkos want to play? Lots of speculation continues to center around the Rangers as being a team to watch this summer. Barring a surprise development, the Lightning are expected to go for another Cup run and risk losing Stamkos for nothing.

— Blues GM Doug Armstrong put it out there on a platter through the media. Anything can happen with David Backes but for them to move him they’re seeking a win-now move (impact player or players in return) and not first round picks. “I guess you could always see it playing out any way,” Blues general manager Doug Armstrong told St. Louis Dispatch. “The least likely scenario would be to trade him because we’re trying to win. A first-round pick does us no good when we’re going to this year’s playoffs. I think we’re going to be a good team and he’s a big part of being a good team. He’s our captain, he’s our leader. We’ve had the most points in the NHL over the last five or six years. I mean, he’s doing something right. If we didn’t want to keep him, we wouldn’t have talked to him in the first place. We’ve got now until March to find out where we’re at.”