The Chicago Blackhawks have traded left wing Brandon Saad, along with prospects Michael Paliotta and Alex Broadhurst, to the Columbus Blue Jackets for forwards Artem Anisimov, Marko Dano, Jeremy Morin and Corey Tropp and a fourth-round selection in the 2016 NHL Draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: And the stunning trades of the summer of 2015 just keep on coming. This one, however, is a significant multiplayer deal that no one saw coming. Say what you will about the Dougie Hamilton and Milan Lucic trades, but there was trade speculation about them leading up to their deals. There was no hint this blockbuster was coming.

Blackhawks ship Brandon Saad to Blue Jackets in multi-player trade.

Blackhawks ship Brandon Saad to Blue Jackets in multi-player trade.

 So why did the Blackhawks trade Saad? Yes, they had to free up cap space, but the 22-year-old wingers was a restricted free agent and an up-and-coming star who helped them win two Stanley Cups in three years.

There are two reasons. One, he was reportedly seeking $6 million per season on a six-year-deal. Second, it appears Saad was going to receive a significant offer sheet which the ‘Hawks couldn’t afford to match.  Little wonder GM Stan Bowman opted to trade him.

Unlike the Hamilton and Lucic trades, however, this deal sees the Blackhawks get some good players in return. Anisimov, 27, is a big (6’4″, 200 lbs), versatile forward who can play center or wing and possesses good playmaking and two-way skills. Injuries and inconsistency have plagued him in his career, but perhaps he can improve the latter with the ‘Hawks. Morin, 24, has some potential as a scoring winger and can play either side of center.  Tropp, 25, could be a decent addition to their checking lines. 

The real prize, however, is Dano. A first-round pick (27th overall) in 2013, he showed some promise during his brief NHL debut last season, tallying 21 points in 35 games. If he blossoms into the scorer he’s projected to become, he could be a big star with the Blackhawks.

The Blue Jackets, meanwhile, take a significant step forward with the addition of Saad. He brings winning experience and skilled offense to the Blue Jackets forward lines. He’s continually improved with each season so far, tallying a career-best 52 points in 82 games. It’s not difficult picturing him on their first line with playmaking center Ryan Johansson or their second line alongside Brandon Dubinsky. The Jackets also add more youth to their system in Paliotta and Broadhurst.  

Time will tell how this deal pans out long term for both clubs. For now, the Jackets added scoring depth to their left wing, while the Blackhawks add depth at center and a promising winger who could prove a more-than-suitable replacement for Saad. It’ll also be interesting to see if this deal affects the trade status of Patrick Sharp, Bryan Bickell and Kris Versteeg. They were being shopped prior to this trade. The ‘Hawks still need to free up cap space to bolster their defense, which could change the type of return they’ll seek for those forwards.