Blackhawks make first move to get under cap, but it’s not the one many expected
By Adam Hess
The Chicago Blackhawks finally made the salary-cap-related trade that many were expecting on Tuesday. But while the trade was expected the parties involved were not.
Brandon Saad, Alex Broadhurst and Michael Paliotta were sent to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Artem Anisimov, Marko Dano, Jeremy Morin, Corey Tropp, and 4th round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.
The deal came as a shock to many and initial reaction from many was some mixture of sadness and anger at losing Saad, a 22-year-old star on the rise.
But what GM Stan Bowman did yesterday was nothing short of expertly managing assets. Reports came in post-trade that Saad was seeking a 6 year contract worth $6.5 million annually, which the Blackhawks simply could not afford even if they had traded wingers Patrick Sharp and Bryan Bickell.
Rather than losing Saad to an offer sheet and getting just draft picks – virtual uncertainties in most cases – in return, Bowman was able to get near-maximum value for Saad.
Anisimov is a solid two-way center who can play on all lines and will likely thrive when not being asked to play a scoring role, which doesn’t fit his game.
Dano is a very good prospect who, along with Teuvo Teravainen and the incoming Artemi Panarin, gives the Blackhawks a good pool of skilled, young, NHL-ready forwards.
Morin brings familiarity, having just been traded to Columbus by the Blackhawks last December, and adds depth. Tropp also adds depth, and has an extremely friendly cap-hit of just $625,000.
The fact of the matter is that Saad currently is probably not worth the money he was seeking. Several players his age with very similar production to his have taken contracts for less than $4 million this year.
A deal in that area was very do-able for the Blackhawks, and was a fair price for Saad. When Saad looked too high and Bowman saw that a deal wasn’t going to be reached he got what he could for his asset and did pretty well.
This trade doesn’t do much for the Blackhawks in terms of free agency, which starts Wednesday. According to Hockey’s Cap (hockeyscap.com), Chicago has just $600,000 in cap space available, so more deals, including trades of Sharp and/or Bickell, could still be in the cards.
NHL teams can exceed the salary cap by up to 10 percent in a given week during the offseason so it is still possible that the Blackhawks sign some players in free agency in the coming days and look to make counter moves down the line.