Ladd savvy vet for kids

RANDY SPORTAK

, Last Updated: 10:22 AM ET

CHICAGO -- In Carolina, Andrew Ladd had to scratch and claw for top-line ice time.

Not long after arriving in Chicago because of the trade-deadline day swap that sent him to the Blackhawks, he was skating on a line with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.

That's right, the former Hitmen standout, all of 22 years old, is the savvy vet alongside the NHL's top young guns.

"Yeah, I'm the old goat," Ladd said with a chuckle.

Then again, he does have something to teach those rising stars. Ladd has been through the push for the playoffs, the post-season battles, and, oh yeah, he's won a Stanley Cup.

The fourth overall pick in the 2004 draft, who couldn't seem to find his niche on Tobacco Road.

"In Carolina, there was always so much depth," Ladd said of the team that has Erik Cole, Ray Whitney, Justin Williams, Sergei Samsonov and Scott Walker patrolling the wings.

He did find his scoring touch just before the deal, cobbling together four goals, six assists and a plus-11 rating in his last 11 games with the Canes.

He's carried it into his time with the Blackhawks, potting three goals and five assists in 10 games since the trade.

A big factor in his resurgent play: He's healthy.

There was a knee injury that cost him 18 games in the 2005-06 season. A separated shoulder and appendix removal last season.

This season, it was first an ankle sprain and then a broken orbital bone.

It was while recovering from this season's injuries he figured the Hurricanes would be looking to trade him -- not once he got rolling.

"When I was playing six minutes a game, I thought something like that might happen, but at the time, I was playing 18 minutes a game and playing well," Ladd said.

"I was more shocked, but once I thought about it, I realized there's a lot of young, talented kids on this team and I had played with guys like Craig Adams and Kevyn Adams and knew Brent Seabrook, so I realized it's a good team with a lot of opportunity."


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