The Chicago Blackhawks immediately followed moving Niklas Hjalmarsson by trading Artemi Panarin to Columbus for former Blackhawk Brandon Saad
Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman is an extremely busy man this morning. After moving Niklas Hjalmarsson to the Arizona Coyotes, Bowman has traded forward Artemi Panarin to the Columbus Blue Jackets for forward and former Blackhawk Brandon Saad.
The complete deal goes as follows, per multiple sources:
Blackhawks get: Forward Brandon Saad, goaltender Anton Forsberg, 2018 fifth-round draft pick
Blue Jackets get: Forward Artemi Panarin, forward Tyler Motte, 2017 sixth-round pick
This is a blockbuster deal, as it returns Saad to Chicago after two seasons in Columbus. It also has the Blackhawks parting with Panarin after two seasons, one of which saw him win the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year.
What this means for the Blackhawks
Da Windy City
Well, this is quite the deal for Chicago. While moving Hjalmarsson for Connor Murphy and Laurent Dauphin was done to get the Blackhawks younger (and add a right-handed shot in Murphy), the Panarin-Saad deal was done in a similar-yet-different vein.
Saad is younger than Panarin and has more proven success in the postseason. Saad, 24, has 232 points in 368 regular-season games and 37 points in 72 postseason affairs. Panarin, 25, netted 151 points in 162 regular-season games, but had just eight points in 11 postseason games, seven of those coming in the 2016 playoffs.
Saad is essentially a direct, younger replacement for Marian Hossa, who will miss the 2017-18 season due to allergies related to his hockey equipment. Saad drew a lot of parallels to Hossa during his first run in Chicago, being strong on the puck and just playing as a two-way power forward.
Meanwhile, the Blackhawks went out and found someone to compete for the backup goaltender job right away. Forsberg, 24, went 27-17-2 with the AHL’s Lake Erie Monsters last season with a .926 save percentage and 2.28 goals-against average. He immediately becomes the favorite to fill the backup role behind Corey Crawford in 2017-18.
At the same time, Chicago had to give up on a promising young forward in Motte in order to acquire Forsberg. Motte, 22, was thought of in the same light as Nick Schmaltz heading into last season, but that didn’t quite pan out. Motte tallied 23 points across 76 games in the NHL and AHL last season.
The cap hit different between Saad and Panarin is negligible, while Forsberg came at a cap hit of $650,000 last season on a one-year deal. So the Blackhawks will need to ink him to a new contract, likely at a similar cost.
Blackhawks reportedly lobbied for Saad
While this trade seemingly came out of left field, some very powerful Blackhawks reportedly had a hand in Saad returning to Chicago.
Saad’s Hossa-like abilities made him a key piece on the top line with Toews and Hossa in 2014-15. Toews just hasn’t looked the same since Saad was moved following the 2015 Cup win.
Meanwhile, Kane will continue to have success despite not having Panarin at his side. Kane piled up the points and championships before the young Russian arrived, so it makes a lot more sense at this juncture for the Blackhawks to roll with Saad versus Panarin.
We’ll have more on this trade later, as it seems the Blackhawks are in full-on movement mode ahead of the NHL draft tonight.