Brandon Saad had plenty to be thankful for after the Blackhawks traded him to the Blue Jackets on Tuesday in a deal that involved a total of seven players, four of which were coming back to the Hawks to go along with a fourth round draft pick in next year’s entry draft. The key returning piece to Chicago who sent Alex Broadhurst and Michael Paliotta along with Saad to Columbus was Russian Center Artem Anisimov who Stan Bowman gloated over and said the Blackhawks had been eyeing the players for some time. Of course Saad said all the right things, but it’s obviously tough to leave a place where her won two Stanley Cups in three years and was just entering the prime of his career. Saad was a first line winger who often played with Jonathan Toews. The nature of the business called for this and GM Stan Bowman did what he thought was best for the team that’s seemingly entering a dynastic stage for the franchise.
The Blackhawks have never had a true number two center behind Jonathan Toews, and Anisimov gives them that for sure. Anisimov started his career with the Rangers where he was drafted 54th overall in 2008. In 2012 he was part of the blockbuster deal that sent Rick Nash to the Rangers, since that time Anisimov has been up and down missing quite a bit of time. This past season he missed a total of 30 games and registered only 27 points in the 52 he played in. In the lockout shortened season he played in 35 games and registered only 18 points with a -6. Overall in Anisimov’s career he’s a -1 with 86 goals and 106 assists in 412 games played.
Now from the looks of the deal Stan Bowman is saying all the right things. They weren’t close, Anisimov’s a guy they’ve been coveting for quite some time, he’ll be a true number two center when they haven’t had one. Now all that’s fine and dandy but the fact of the matter is that if Saad was able to be retained with other players having some value he would’ve been. Bryan Bickell, Kris Versteeg, Marian Hossa all can’t be dealt because they’re getting paid too much for the type of player they are. Brandon Saad was trending in the right direction since the lockout season. In the last two years Saad had a total of 42 goals and 57 assists. Saad only missed a total of four games and in the playoffs he was a big reason the Blackhawks defeated the Ducks. Saad’s postseason career numbers only got better with time as he had 16 points in 19 games a season ago, and then followed that up with 11 points (8 goals) in 23 games and another Stanley Cup to his résumé.
On a positive note from this trade is that Blackhawks still have three of the best players at their position in the world. More than likely they won’t have to trade Brent Seabrook now because they bit the bullet on Saad. The Blackhawks have added a few good young players, and a couple Russian players to go along with Anisimov in Artemy Panarin and Viktor Tikhonov. Both players are expected to be in the lineup come opening night against the Rangers when the Hawks raise another banner. Don’t expect the Blackhawks to be done with their wheelings and dealings however. The Hawks still have a lot of cap maneuvering to do in order to place a decent product on the ice. Patrick Kane’s not likely to go down with another mysterious injury for the last twenty games to clear $10.5 million off the books to go get another mercenary for a cup run. Or maybe he will, it certainly helped the Hawks to another banner year.
To further their confidence in Anisimov, the Hawks signed him to a five year $22.75 million extension. Anisimov’s numbers should go up with the more skilled players he’ll have on his wings in Chicago. Columbus picked 8th overall this year and finished with 89 points, nine out of the Eastern Conference Playoffs.