The Blackhawks dealt left winger Artemi Panarin to the Blue Jackets for Brandon Saad. Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
With draft day just hours away, the Chicago Blackhawks have made a huge splash trading star left winger Artemi Panarin to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for a Brandon Saad.
TSN.ca’s Pierre LeBrun reports pieces in the deal include depth center Tyler Motte and a sixth-round pick in the upcoming draft going to Columbus. Meanwhile, goalie Anton Forsberg and a fifth-round pick head to Blue Jackets.
But let’s be real, the big news here is two in-their-prime forwards with recent 30-goal campaigns were swapped. That rarely happens.
Saad was acquired by Columbus from Chicago (he played three full seasons, winning two Cups with them from 2011-15) back in the 2015 offseason. In two seasons with the Jackets, the 24-year-old centerman has scored 31 and 24 goals, respectively, while adding back-to-back 50-point campaigns. Saad has produced as a top-line forward and will likely assume that role when he returns to the Blackhawks.
Apparently, stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane really missed Saad.
Chicago has been looking to clear cap room, but bizarrely, this deal adds to their long-term spending. Saad’s owed $6 million for the next four seasons, while Panarin has the same cap-hit over two seasons. According to LeBrun, retaining Panarin at a high-cap hit played a huge factor in the deal.
Adding Forsberg gives them a backup goaltender option now Scott Darling is in Carolina, but it’s a sort of head-scratching deal for the declining dynasty. But, Saad can play.
With the Niklas Hjalmarsson trade earlier this afternoon, Chicago is seemingly moving on to a new chapter and identity.
As for Columbus, it’s a nice deal—even if it means parting with Saad.
Panarin is an explosive scorer who’s been dynamite in two NHL seasons since coming over from the KHL. In 2016-17, Panarin finished second on the Blackhawks with 31 goals and 73 points. Though he’s played largely with one of the NHL’s best scorers in Patrick Kane, Panarin’s production isn’t a mirage. The 25-year-old led Blackhawks forwards with a 54.6 corsi for (shot attempts for/against percentage) and was second on the team with 44 points at even strength.
Columbus has created quite a core which includes Alexander Wennberg, Zach Weresnki, Seth Jones, Cam Atkinson and Sergei Bobrovsky. That’s without mentioning Pierre Luc-Dubois and Sonny Milano, who could join the team full-time next season. General manager Jarmo Kekalainen has done a really nice job over the past two seasons in bringing in promising pieces, most of whom can make an immediate impact.
It’s hard to call a winner in the deal. Panarin is clearly the better player, but the Blackhawks don’t have to worry about Saad leaving in two seasons. That cost efficiency made the deal happen. Both teams should be happy.
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