Panthers co-owner raves about Ladd, but won’t ‘comment on discussions’

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The ties between the Florida Panthers and pending UFA forward Andrew Ladd were never a secret.

But now, they’re pretty much out in the open.

Ladd, currently the captain in Winnipeg, is rumored to be available by the Feb. 29 trade deadline — and one of the teams believed to be interested is Florida, where Ladd’s former Chicago GM, Dale Tallon, is running the show and on record saying the Panthers want to acquire a goalscoring forward.

Know who else is a big Ladd fan?

Panthers co-owner Doug Cifu.

“He’s a great player, a character guy, obviously Dale knows him very well,” Cifu said, per the Florida Sun-Sentinel. “I’m not going to comment on discussions, but he’s a great character, a great hockey player, he really is.”

Cifu added it would “make some sense” if Florida “could add a nice forward that’s got some skill.”

Ladd’s currently in the last of a five-year, $22 million deal with a $4.4M cap hit and has a ton of postseason experience, with two Stanley Cups on his resume.

In that regard, he makes plenty of sense as a rental player.

The price of that rental, though, is expensive. According to TSN senior correspondent Gary Lawless, the Jets have reportedly received at least one offer for Ladd, which included a first-round pick and a prospect.

Florida certainly has a wealth of prospects available to trade, and its first-round pick at this year’s entry draft.