In a recent turn of events, the Chicago Blackhawks struck a deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets, notably in exchange for first line left-winger, Brandon Saad. Alongside Saad is forward Alex Broadhurst and defenseman Michael Paliotta. In return, the Blackhawks received forwards Artem Anisimov, Marko Dano, Corey Tropp, and the familiar, Jeremy Morin.
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There’s been a lot of firestorm about Saad’s earlier comments about being willing to take a deal to stay with Chicago, and Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman stating that Saad’s re-signing was the number one priority, even after the cap was projected and confirmed to be set at $71.4 million; a $2.4 million increase from last year’s $69 million. With the new contracts for Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane kicking in this year at $10.5 million a piece, accounting for 29.4% of the Blackhawks’ cap, a number of people were still sure Chicago could sign Saad for $4 million.
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There are a few issues with that.
Chicago had some problems shopping both Patrick Sharp ($5.9M) and Bryan Bickell ($4M). It’s unclear what specifically they were asking for in exchange for the two wingers, but there were a number of reports saying that the Blackhawks didn’t feel the return for Sharp offered was high enough to take the bait. The two account for nearly 14% of the Blackhawks’ $71.4M salary cap at a combined $9.9M for the year. Between them two and Toews/Kane alone, Blackhawks had already filled out 43.3%. (For a comparison, those same four players had taken up 33.19% of the 2014-2015 season’s $69M cap). Adding Saad in at $4-4.5M meant another 5.6-6.3% of cap-space being taken (meaning nearly 50% on just 5 players).
This is not to say that Saad isn’t worth the 6.3% of space. This past season, Saad accounted for nearly 29% of Chicago’s total TOI and 10.73% of Chicago’s 289 Goals. The only forwards spending more TOI than Saad were Marian Hossa (29.88%) and Toews (31.55%) (Kane would have if not for injury, as he spent 32.263% of his eligible time on the ice for Chicago). The only forwards to account for larger percentages of Chicago’s goals? Kane and Toews (13.15% each).
But here-in lies the problem:
Bryan Bickell makes $4M dollars. Bowman mad a mistake a few years back of overpaying a Stanley Cup Winner $4M for 4 years (Yes, we all do it, even Bowman). Looking at this year’s stats, Bickell accounted for 18.83% of Chicago’s TOI, and 4.844% of Chicago’s goals. You could argue the reduction in goals might be a product of being deployed on the third line for the most part, but the vast disparity between Saad’s deployment and production and Bickell’s has to tell you that one of the players is worth more here. Offering Saad a deal at the same level of Bickell for him to play 10% more ice time and contribute nearly 6% more goals (which doesn’t sound huge but it’s 17 goals) is ridiculous. The fact that he is performing ice-time-wise and goal-contribution-wise at a comparable rate to Kane/Toews really should tell you that deal would sort of be an insult really.
If it had been a smaller difference between the two offers, I think Saad might have settled. That is, if Bowman had offered him $4M and Saad had wanted $5M, there would have been an easier deal to be made. The difference between the $4-4.5M Chicago had been rumored to be looking to spend on Saad and the $6.5M he’s been reported as asking for is not much of a “settling” kind of deal. That is to say: $2M is a lot of settling.
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Salary cap info courtesy of war-on-ice.com