In a blockbuster trade, the Chicago Blackhawks have traded phenom forward Artemi Panarin to the Columbus Blue Jackets in return for Brandon Saad. Finding themselves up against the cap, the Blackhawks need to shed players, and Panarin is the next to go after Niklas Hjalmarsson was traded to Arizona earlier today. Saad is a familiar face to the Blackhawks organization, having been traded to Columbus from Chicago just two summers ago. Also going to the Blue Jackets are Tyler Motte and a sixth round pick in 2017. Chicago, in addition to Saad, receives goaltender Anton Forsberg and a fifth round pick in 2018.
So full deal: Panarin, Motte and 6th Rd pick this year to Columbus for Saad, Forsberg and 5th Rd pick 2018
Artemi Panarin Traded by Chicago Blackhawks to Columbus Blue Jackets
Panarin Headed to Columbus
Panarin is coming off of another wildly successful season after having won the Calder Trophy just a year ago. In 2015-16, his rookie season, Panarin scored 30 goals and added 47 assists. This past year, Panarin again hit the 30 goal marking, scoring 31 goals and 74 points. The 25 year old has found great success playing alongside Patrick Kane. He is deadly on the power play, where he scored nine goals and eight assists last year.
Panarin currently has two years remaining on his contract. He carries a cap hit of $6 million per season. At the expiration of his contract, he will become an unrestricted free agent. The Blue Jackets can handle this contract, as they have ample room under the cap, and move Saad’s contract.
The Russian winger was a steal for the Blackhawks, signed out of free agency from the Kontinental Hockey League. In 162 career NHL games, Panarin has 151 points. His production will be valued in Columbus.
Saad Returns to Chicago
Saad, just 24 himself, just finished his sixth year in the NHL, and his fifth full season. The winger scored 24 goals and 53 points this past season, playing in all 82 regular season games. He also now has 72 games of playoff experience between his time with the Blackhawks and the Blue Jackets. He has developed into a leader, and a consistent performer. He does most of his work at even-strength, which may have been a draw for the Blackhawks.
Saad’s contract carries a $6 million per season hit as well, so his acquisition does not afford the Blackhawks any cap relief. What is does provide them is stability. He is signed through the 2020-2021 season. At the expiration of his contract, he will be 30 years old, and likely coming out of his prime. He was likely sought after by the Blackhawks for this stability, and to renew the chemistry he had built with teammates during his four years in Chicago.
In those four years with Chicago, he scored 126 points in 208 games. He added another 106 points in 160 games with the Blue Jackets. While he has not scored at quite the same pace as Panarin, he is a year younger with far more NHL experience.
Also going to Chicago are Anton Forsberg and a sixth round pick in the 2017 entry-draft. Forsberg, a 24 year old Swedish goaltender, has just nine starts in the NHL, with just one win. He has primarily played with Columbus Blue Jackets American Hockey League affiliate Lake Erie Monsters. Last season with the Monsters, Forsberg played 51 games, compiling 27 wins, a .926 save percentage, and a 2.28 goals allowed average. After losing Scott Darling in free agency, the Blackhawks may see Forsberg as a viable backup to Corey Crawford.
Along with Brandon Saad, the Blue Jackets acquire Tyler Motte and a fifth round selection in 2018. Motte, a rookie last season, played 33 games with the Blackhawks, playing primarily bottom-six minutes. He scored four goals and three assists with Chicago. The 22 year old gives Columbus some more depth at forward.