With a new contract in his back pocket, Winnipeg Jets captain Andrew Ladd can turn his attention to more important things.
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”I’m getting married July 17 in Las Vegas,” Ladd said Tuesday. ”It’s exciting. Now we can kind of let this all go by and start focusing on that and get excited about that big day.”
The $22-million, five-year deal he received from the Jets was a long time coming. Ladd’s agent, J.P. Barry, had the framework of an extension worked out with the Atlanta Thrashers months ago, but it never got completed.
After the Thrashers moved to Winnipeg on May 31, Barry and Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff resumed contract talks during the draft weekend and came to an agreement a few hours before Ladd would likely have filed for salary arbitration.
It was the culmination of a breakthrough season for the 25-year-old forward. He had career bests of 29 goals and 59 points and was chosen captain of the Thrashers.
”The last year’s been pretty exciting for me in terms of the different role that I was given,” said Ladd. ”To be one of the leaders with that organization and the opportunity to play more and be in more situations (was nice).
”It seems like it’s going in the right direction for me and I’m looking forward to keeping that challenge up.”
Ladd thinks he’ll be wearing the ‘C’ when the new Jets play their first regular-season game Oct. 9 against Montreal at MTS Centre.
He was given the captaincy by former Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay, who has since been replaced by Claude Noel.
”I expect it to be the same,” said Ladd. ”I guess ultimately it’s not my decision. I spoke to Claude about a week ago I guess, I had a good conversation with him, and we kind of said that we’d talk more when this all got done.”
Ladd earned a raise on the $2.35 million he was paid last season. The new deal averages $4.4 million each year.
Interestingly, Ladd passed on the opportunity to sign a one-year contract and test unrestricted free agency next summer.
”Definitely you know it’s there — unrestricted free agency’s a big thing for a player,” he said. ”Looking at the big picture, I was in a great situation with the organization in terms of my role with the team. It never really crossed my mind to go that route.
”I wanted to get a long-term deal done pretty much all the way along.”
He’s done plenty of moving in recent years. Ladd won the Stanley Cup with Carolina in 2006 and Chicago in 2010, but was traded away from both teams.