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Canadiens Free Agency targets: Is Andrew Ladd the solution for the second line?

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At the right price, the veteran winger may be exactly what Marc Bergevin is looking for

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Montreal Canadiens General Manager Marc Bergevin seems to have chosen his winning formula to craft a championship team: acquire players from the Blackhawks.

All kidding aside, with the recent additions of Phillip Danault and Andrew Shaw, Bergevin is acquiring players that he knows very well, having spent his formative management years scouting and watching them closely as part of the Chicago organization, not to mention bringing over goaltending coach Stephane Waite.

One of those players who Bergevin is very familiar with is 6'3" Andrew Ladd, who will become an Unrestricted Free Agent on July 1, after completing a five year deal he originally signed with the Winnipeg Jets in 2011 that was worth $4.4M AAV.

Ladd is a talented left winger, stretched a bit thin on the first line with the Winnipeg Jets, but fitting right in with a deep Chicago roster. He is good for around 20 goals per season, and about 50 total points. He has been clutch on numerous occasions, and if deployed correctly, could be a dangerous weapon for the Canadiens in a secondary scoring role.

A former captain for the Jets, and a two-time Stanley Cup winner, Ladd has the leadership and experience that Bergevin covets most in his players. One of the issues that was identified at the end of the last season was that the young leadership core of the Montreal Canadiens was missing that strong veteran presence in the locker room in times of duress, naming Manny Malhotra specifically as someone who brought that element.

Ladd could bring that experience to the team, alongside an offensive upside to the second line which the Canadiens are struggling to solidify with various experiments failing in recent years.

However, he will not come cheap. He will be looking for his fifth professional contract on July 1, and at 30 years of age will attempt to get his last big payday. Can the Canadiens afford him if he asks for something around $4.5M-$4.75 per season?

That question might have been answered on Friday when the Canadiens traded away Lars Eller and acquired Andrew Shaw, effectively solidifying their third line centre, and making David Desharnais expendable. At $3.5M for one more season, Desharnais represents an expensive out-of-position third line player on the wing.

If Bergevin can trade Desharnais, that money can be used towards Ladd, who would fit in as second line left winger alongside Tomas Plekanec. However, with contracts expiring for several key core players for the Canadiens, including Carey Price, it's uncertain whether the Canadiens will be able to give Ladd the term he will be looking for.

He is an attractive option, but only if the Canadiens can bring him in at a reasonable price. They cannot afford to overpay him.