Andrew Ladd is the latest Winnipeg Jet to pack up and head to a league that is actually playing its games, signing with Avangard Omsk of the KHL.
For the last few weeks, the Jets captain had been leading practices with a few teammates in Winnipeg, hoping the lockout would not last long. However, Ladd’s scrimmages seemed to be getting thin on players, as Ed Tait from the Winnipeg Free Press tweeted that there were only nine players at this morning’s skate.
The exodus of NHL players to other leagues has been growing steadily over the last week or so, making it no surprise that Ladd chose to jump on that opportunity. The Omsk team he is joining is Jaromir Jagr’s former team, where he played before making his NHL comeback.
The current Omsk squad is fairly nondescript, with only a few recognizable names. Former Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers enigma, Alexander Frolov is on the team, as well as former New Jersey Devil Anssi Salmela and Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman, Nikita Nikitin. Once highly-touted goaltender Karri Ramo now occupies the crease for Omsk. Other than those guys, the team consists of mostly Russian players you or I have never heard of.
Depending on how long the NHL stoppage lasts, Ladd will likely see a lot of teammate Nik Antropov, as Antro’s Barys Astana is in the same division as Omsk. The two teams play on October 31. About a week before that, Ladd will face Evander Kane and Dynamo Minsk.
With the rate players continue to sign with other teams and talks between the NHL and NHLPA stalling, it wouldn’t be a shock if Ladd is playing with or against more familiar faces before those games.