The Chicago Blackhawks are hoping a reunion with Andrew Ladd leads to another Stanley Cup title.
The Blackhawks acquired one of the top forwards on the trade market when they sent prospect Marko Dano and two draft picks to Winnipeg on Thursday night for Ladd, forward Matt Fraser and defenseman Jay Harrison.
"I knew that it was a probability that I was going to end up being traded and I think Chicago was on the top of my list for places I wanted to be," Ladd said on a conference call. "I'm familiar with the organization and guys already on the team and that would ease the transition for me."
Ladd will play on the left side of Chicago's top line, filling a giant hole created by the trade of Brandon Saad to Columbus last summer. Andrew Shaw had done a solid job in the role of late, but the trade for Ladd moves Shaw down to a lower line and creates more balance for the defending champions.
Fraser and Harrison will report to Rockford in the AHL.
"Regardless of who I play with, going to a team that has a chance at winning the Stanley Cup is an exciting prospect for anyone," Ladd said.
The 30-year-old Ladd had 17 goals and 17 assists in 59 games for Winnipeg this season. He is eligible for unrestricted free agency this summer, possibly making this a short stay with the Blackhawks so close to the salary cap.
Ladd previously played for Chicago for two-plus seasons, helping the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup in 2010. He has 202 goals and 252 assists in 750 career games with three NHL teams, also winning the title in 2006 with Carolina.
"We all know what kind of player he is," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "The two Cups he's won, the experience he brings. Not only his skill, what he can do on the ice, but his intangibles as a player. Everyone knows why he's a captain, what he does well and what he brought to his team in Winnipeg."
The trade comes at a nice time for the Blackhawks, who have dropped five of seven following Thursday night's 3-1 loss to Nashville. Chicago remained one point back of Dallas for the Western Conference lead after the Stars lost 6-3 to the Jets.
Ladd could in uniform as soon as Sunday's visit by NHL-leading Washington.
"It's going to help that he's been here before," defenseman Duncan Keith said. "He's familiar with the organization, a lot of the players, the training staff, management."
Dano was acquired by Chicago in the Saad deal and the 21-year-old forward was regarded as one of the Blackhawks' top prospects. He had eight goals and 13 assists in 35 games with the Blue Jackets last season.
But the time is now for Chicago, and Dano had just one goal and one assist in a 13-game stint with the Blackhawks before he was sent down to Rockford on Dec. 11.
Winnipeg also acquired a first-round pick in this year's draft and a conditional pick in 2018 based on how Chicago does in the playoffs. It retained approximately 36 percent of Ladd's remaining salary in the deal.
"From our standpoint, obviously, we got a young prospect in Marko Dano that has skill. He competes hard," Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said. "He's a young player that fits the direction that we want to go. He goes to the hard areas. He can play up and down the lineup."
The Blackhawks, trying for their fourth NHL title in the last seven seasons, might not be done. They could look to bolster their defense ahead of Monday's trade deadline.
"There's still a few days to go," general manager Stan Bowman said. "It's our job to continue to look and see if there's anything that makes sense to improve the team. If it doesn't change from where we are now, I really like the group we have."
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap