(CBS) The Blackhawks have traded restricted free agent Brandon Saad to the Columbus Blue Jackets, they announced Tuesday afternoon, a surprising move after general manager Stan Bowman stressed that re-signing the 22-year-old winger would be a priority following his breakout season.
In return, Chicago received forwards Artem Anisimov, Marko Dano, Jeremy Morin and Corey Tropp, as well as a fourth-round selection in the 2016 draft. The Blackhawks also sent away forward Alex Broadhurst and defenseman Michael Paliotta.
Saad’s exit comes because Chicago faces a salary cap crunch. A hard cap has been set at $71.4 million, and the Blackhawks have already committed nearly $65 million to 14 players. In recent negotiations, the Blackhawks and Saad were further apart on compensation than they originally expected they’d be, 670 The Score’s Jay Zawaski reported Monday evening.
Saad was looking for a longer-term deal in the range of $5 million annually. The Blackhawks wanted a shorter-term “bridge deal” for just under $3 million, sources said.
Saad was an integral part of the Blackahwks’ third Stanley Cup title in six season, recording 23 goals and 29 assists in the regular season and shining in the playoffs. They certainly didn’t want to have to part with him, but finances dictated otherwise.
“I just talked to him right after we won,” Bowman said after Chicago’s clinching victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup. “We gave a hug and said, ‘This is the first of many. We’re going to win a lot together.’ He gave me a big hug and said, ‘Let’s go.’ He’s going to be here. I don’t think he’d want to leave after this scene here.”
Anisimov, 27, had 27 points (seven goals, 20 assists) in 52 games for the Blue Jackets last season. Dano, 20, had 21 points (eight goals, 13 assists) in 35 games in his rookie campaign.
The 24-year-old Morin returning to Chicago is intriguing because the Blackahwks dealt him to the Blue Jackets last December after he demanded a trade because coach Joel Quenneville wasn’t playing him much. Morin had a combined six points (two gaols, four assists) in 43 games between Chicago and Columbus last season.
Tropp, 25, had eight points (one goal, seven assists) in 61 games for the Blue Jackets last season.
Broadhurst, 22, had 14 poitns in 29 games at AHL Rockford last season. Paliotta, 22, appeared in one game for the Blackhawks in April after he finished his college career at the University of Vermont.