2009-10: Paul Ladue skated in 27 games for Grand Forks Central HS in North Dakota as a junior. He scored 10 goals with 25 assists and had 18 penalty minutes. Central finished first in the East Region and were state champions; finishing with a 24-3 record. Ladue was selected by Lincoln in the 16th round (226th overall) of the 2010 USHL Entry Draft.
2010-11: Ladue joined the NAHL’s Alexandria Blizzard, foregoing his senior season at Grand Forks Central to play junior hockey. He skated in 56 of 58 games for the Blizzard and scored 3 goals with 19 assists and 58 penalty minutes. Ladue’s plus-18 plus/minus was second on the Blizzard behind Thomas Williams (+26). Alexandria finished first in the NAHL Central Division. Ladue played in three playoff games in the five-game series with Bismarck and was minus-two with 2 assists and 2 penalty minutes. Ladue was identified as a “Player to Watch” by Central Scouting but was not selected in the 2011 NHL Draft in his second year of eligibility.
2011-12: Ladue played for the USHL’s Lincoln Stars and committed to playing college hockey at North Dakota in 2013-14. In 56 games for the Stars he led all Lincoln defensemen with 9 goals and had 25 assists; finishing plus-36 with 27 penalty minutes. Lincoln finished first in the West Division and reached the USHL playoff semifinals. In 8 playoff games Ladue was plus-two with 1 goal, 2 assists and 2 penalty minutes. Not among the 210 North American skaters in Central Scouting’s final rankings prior to the 2012 NHL Draft, he was selected by Los Angeles in the sixth round (181st overall).
2012-13: LaDue was named the USHL’s Defenseman of the Year following his second season with Lincoln. He led Stars defensemen in scoring with 12 goals and 37 assists in 62 regular season games and was +27 with 20 penalty minutes. The Stars finished fourth in the Western Conference and lost to Sioux Falls in a first-round playoff series. LaDue scored 1 goal with 1 assist and was an even plus/minus in five playoff games.
2013-14: LaDue was named to the National Collegiate Hockey Conference all-rookie team following his freshman season at North Dakota. He scored 6 goals with 15 assists and was +15 with 23 penalty minutes. North Dakota finished second to St. Cloud State in the newly-formed NCHC; losing to Miami, 3-0, in the NCHC semifinals but earning an at-large bid to the NCAA Midwest Regional with a win in the league’s third-place game. The Fighting Sioux defeated Wisconsin and Ferris State to win the regional; falling to Minnesota 2-1 in the Frozen Four semifinals on a goal in the game’s final second. LaDue scored a goal against Western Michigan in the NCHC third-place game, had 1 assist vs. Wisconsin and had 2 assists against Ferris State in post-season play.
LaDue, skating for the same college program as Kings' 2010 first round pick Derek Forbort (North Dakota), arrived in Grand Forks with a lot less fanfare but has been an impact player in his first two seasons with the Fighting Sioux. He has an excellent all-around game, particularly on the offensive side of the puck. LaDue skates and moves the puck well and has a nice shot to go along with it. He could still improve upon his defensive zone play and pack on muscle but he has adjusted facets of his game quickly and successfully to adapt to higher levels of competition.
LaDue is in his sophomore season at the University of North Dakota in 2014-15. Following an impressive freshman season, he continues to improve. A late-round, long-term project when he was drafted in 2012, LaDue is displaying the potential to be an effective puck-moving defenseman capable of controlling the play with his skating and contributing to the attack. His defensive game must continue to mature moving forward — and he will likely use both of his final two seasons at North Dakota before turning pro. Long-term LaDue projects as a middle pairing, puck moving defenseman at the NHL level with some power play potential.