Brandon Saad Coming Back To Blackhawks In Blockbuster Deal That Sends Artemi Panarin To Blue Jackets

(CBS) Brandon Saad is coming back to the Blackhawks.

In a blockbuster deal Friday morning, Chicago traded winger Artemi Panarin, forward Tyler Motte and a sixth-round pick in this weekend’s draft to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Saad, goalie Anton Forsberg and a fifth-round pick in 2018. A 24-year-old winger, Saad spent his first three-plus seasons with the Blackhawks and played a role on two championship teams while flourishing alongside star Jonathan Toews.

The deal was a shocker, as the 25-year-old Panarin had been one of Chicago’s best players across the last two seasons,debuting with 77 points as a rookie in 2015-’16 and recording 74 points last season.

“We thank Artemi for the immediate impact he made on our lineup during his seamless transition to the NHL,” Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said in a statement. “His rookie year will always rank among the best in franchise history and his exciting style of play provided many memorable moments for our fans during his two seasons as a member of the team. Tyler has a bright future in this league and we appreciate his contributions and hard work he put in. We wish them both success in Columbus.”

The Saad-for-Panarin deal was the Blackhawks’ second big move of Friday — which brings the NHL Draft in the evening as well — as they’d earlier sent defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson to the Coyotes for two youngsters.

Saad had 24 goals and 29 assists in 82 games last season, his second in Columbus. He played for the Blackhawks from 2011-’15 before being traded to the Blue Jackets in June 2015 as Chicago faced a salary cap crunch. The Blackhawks selected Saad in the second round of the 2011 draft.

Finances likely played a role in this trade for the Blackhawks as well. Saad is signed for the next four seasons at an annual cap hit of $6 million. Panarin carries the same $6 million cap hit across the next two seasons, then is set to be a free agent in summer 2019 — at which point he’d likely command a raise.

The 24-year-old Forsberg has split the last three seasons between the Blue Jackets and the AHL. He has a 1-8-0 record with a 4.02 goals against average in 10 career NHL games. He had a 2.28 goals against average at AHL Cleveland last season.

The 22-year-old Motte split time between the Blackhawks and AHL Rockford Icehogs last season, when he scored four goals and had three assists 33 games in Chicago. He had 16 points in 43 games at Rockford.

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