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Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks’ Trade Reaction: Don’t Be (Brandon) Saad

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Apr 12, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Brandon Saad (20) handles the puck as Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) defends the net during the first period in game one of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG PAINTS Arena. The Penguins won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 12, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Brandon Saad (20) handles the puck as Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) defends the net during the first period in game one of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG PAINTS Arena. The Penguins won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Chicago Blackhawks made the early splash of the the NHL draft weekend by making two huge trades

Today, the Chicago Blackhawks made a pair of blockbuster deals ahead of the NHL draft. The first move was shipping defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson to Arizona for Connor Murphy and Laurent Dauphin. The other saw Artemi Panarin, Brandon Saad and a draft pick go to Columbus for Brandon Saad, Anton Forsberg and a draft pick.

Hjalmarsson has been a big part of all three modern-era Blackhawks’ Stanley championship runs. He played big minutes and was a member of the big four defensemen. He was famous in Chicago for his shot-blocking ability and his toughness. He would not miss shifts while taking pucks off any body part.

He played key minutes when Duncan Keith was suspended against the L.A. Kings in 2012-13 Western Conference finals. According to the Chicago tribune, Hjalmarsson is upset to be leaving Chicago.

My reaction to the Hjalmarsson trade

General Manager Stan Bowman had promised changes this offseason, and he has delivered. Bowman traded Hammer to get the Blackhawks younger on defense.

As I stated before, the Blackhawks did not have any younger NHL-ready defensemen in their prospect pool.  Bowman had to get younger on defense, and yet still be competitive at the NHL level.

His best piece to get a decent return was Hjalmarsson. He was also Bowman’s most movable piece. He did not have to waive a no-trade clause. Bowman just couldn’t move Hjalmarsson to a team on the blueliner’s 10-team no-trade list. He got a young defenseman in Murphy and a young center Dauphin. Murphy has played four years in the NHL, while Dauphin is still a prospect.

I am not pleased with move, but I understand the move. It is going to hurt this season with Keith and Brent Seabrook being the big two now, and then everyone else being just that. The Blackhawks will be dependent on Michal Kempny more this season.

Welcome back, General Saad

The Blackhawks continued to shake up the roster with another trade, the key pieces being Panarin and Saad. Panarin was a highlight reel most nights on the ice during his two years in Chicago and won the Calder Trophy as a rookie.

During the 2016-17 season, he signed a two-year, $6 million extension with the Hawks. Despite generally a lot of offensive production with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov, Panarin could be viewed as one-dimensional.

Motte might be better suited in Columbus, where he can play more minutes and develop. The ’Hawks were hoping he was NHL-ready last year, but after an injury he was not the same. Forsberg solves the backup goalie situation in Chicago.

All that being said, I love this move! I am 100 percent behind it, and I understand why Bowman did it. Johnathan Toews has not been the same type of offensive player since Saad was traded away in 2015. The Blackhawks have tried a revolving door worth of  forwards to play with Toews since Saad left. So the only player to fill Saad’s void is Saad.

This deal makes Toews a better player on offense. Saad does the dirty work: winning corner battle and going to the net. While Panarin scores more than Saad, Saad is a more a complete player.

The Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus summed it up best. Kane can still be productive without Panarin, but Toews needs Saad on his wing. Saad is at his best in the Blackhawks system, he fits what they are trying to do better than Panarin.

The Blackhawks already have a replacement for Panarin in Alex DeBrincat. DeBrincat is built in the same mold as Panarin and Kane.

Next: Blackhawks' Panarin Traded To Columbus For Saad

These moves also help the Blackhawks get younger. The ’Hawks were starting to get long in the tooth. Next season will be more of a challenge, but these moves will help down the line.

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