First, a few comments about Ladd from Jim Neveau over at Paint it Blackhawks:
The statistical impact of losing Andrew Ladd really won’t be felt too much by the Hawks, but the intangible impact he had on the team is unquestionably his greatest asset as a player. He frequently would park himself in front of the goal, creating screens and traffic better than just about anyone else on the team. He also had the ability to play a physical brand of hockey when the time called for it, and his two Stanley Cup rings are a testament to his ability to perform in big situations.
Those are pretty solid comments. In addition, I've repeatedly heard folks talking about Ladd's line playing against the top opposition every night. It sounds like he's a checking/shutdown line guy with a bit of a scoring touch. To evaluate those claims, I ran some numbers. The chart is below the jump.
These stats are for Chicago's 2009-2010 regular season for forwards who played at least 50 games. This turns out to be 12 forwards. Perfect. I've color-coded the ranks: ranks of 1-3 are green (top line performance), 4-6 are yellow (second line performance), 7-12 are red (bottom six performance).
To me, the things I'm hearing about Ladd and the statistics I'm seeing are not meshing. Ladd seems to be a very capable goal scorer at even-strength. His 17 goals look relatively low, but he received just 50 minutes of power-play ice time all season, scoring no goals. If you look at even-strength goals only, Ladd's 17 are just a touch shy of Kane's 21 and Sharp's 19. He tied Marian Hossa. (Hossa did play considerably less games, but Ladd also had much less ice time per game than any of those guys. Taking ice time into account, Ladd is 3rd, as reflected in the chart above.)
Again: Ladd scored at a rate comparable to guys like Sharp and Hossa at even-strength. In this respect, he reminds me of the Colby Armstrong of 2008-2009 whose 19 ESGs were near the best on the team.
Ladd's point totals don't look too shabby either: metrics for total offense when he's on the ice show him to be a solid 2nd-liner. On a team which includes Kane, Toews, Sharp, and Hossa.
His defensive numbers look more questionable. Rick Dudley spoke of Ladd as though he's a top shutdown guy, but the numbers just don't bear it out. While his Corsi stats are pretty good, the opposition scored goals at a higher rate when Ladd was on the ice than any other forward. That's not good. That's reflected in his plus-minus.
The usual explanation for something like that is that Ladd, being a shutdown guy, was always playing against the top guys from other teams. According to Behind the Net's stats, he just wasn't. He played against basically average competition with basically average linemates.
This isn't to say that I'm unhappy about our acquisition of Ladd: I think he's a solid player who will continue to get better over the next couple years. I just expect him to flourish offensively on our team rather than defensively: he may be a "two-way" player, but he seems to be stronger in the offensive zone than the defensive.