Brandon Saad Surprised By Deal But Ready To Rejoin Blackhawks

(CBS) The hockey world was stunned last Friday when news came through that the Blackhawks were trading star forward Artemi Panarin to the Blue Jackets for a familiar face, winger Brandon Saad.

Put into a difficult situation after losing Marian Hossa, the Blackhawks made a bold move to acquire a two-way forward in Saad. The phone call certainly caught the 24-year-old Saad by surprise.

“I was a little surprised when it happened, but it’s definitely nice to be back somewhere where I obviously had a lot of success,” Saad said said in an interview with Mike Mulligan and David Haugh on 670 The Score on Thursday. “I feel comfortable with everything about it — the city, the players, the coaches. It definitely feels good to be back, for sure.”

Two summers ago, the Blackhawks traded Saad to the Blue Jackets for forward Artem Anisimov and two others in a deal that allowed Saad to sign a six-year, $36-million deal with Columbus. He had gotten the big contract so desired after helping Chicago win the Stanley Cup in 2015, but he never performed to the level expected in Columbus. He had 53 points in each of his two seasons there.

“For some reason, it didn’t click how we expected it to,” Saad said. “Both teams made trades to kind of fit their needs. They got a great player in Panarin, and I’m going back to a great hockey town and play with some great players. I’m excited for that.”

With the Blackhawks, Saad expects to fill his familiar role alongside Jonathan Toews on the top line. Hossa is sidelined for the 2017-’18 season and perhaps forced into retirement due to a skin condition and dangerous effects from the medication.

Because of this, the Blackhawks are left hoping that Saad can help fill that void on the top line.

“He’s definitely a guy I’ve looked up to as a kid and playing with him,” Saad said of Hossa. “It’s tough to see a guy like that go down. He’s always somebody I looked up to and tried to have similarities in my game to him. Really, it’s just coming in and being myself. It is a very similar to his, the way I like to play. Try to help the team win.”

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