By Chris Emma–
(CBS) Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman wanted to keep 22-year-old forward Brandon Saad in Chicago.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Winter Weather Advisory Issued For Illinois; 1-3 Inches Of Snow Possible
Saad had become a fixture on the Blackhawks’ top line and seemed to be an important part of the future, but negotiations broke down with the restricted free agent in the past few days. Saad wanted $6.5 million over six seasons, according to a report, and Chicago wasn’t going to be able to match the likely offer sheet to take him away from the Blackhawks.
So it came as a surprise came Tuesday afternoon when Bowman dealt Saad to Columbus in exchange for four forwards and a 2016 fourth-round selection. The move came right before Saad could take in outside offers as free agency opens Wednesday.
“We both tried hard to make it work, and it just wasn’t going to work in this scenario,” Bowman said. “We certainly tried out best. I don’t think we came close on a contract.”
The Blackhawks acquired forwards Artem Anisimov, Marko Dano, Jeremy Morin and Corey Tropp. Anismov, 27, is expected to take on the second-line center role. Dano, a 20-year-old, will likely fit in as a fixture on the Blackhawks’ second or third line.
“He’s an exciting player,” Bowman said of Dano.
Additionally, Chicago also added Jeremy Morin and Corey Tropp. The addition of Morin comes seven months after he demanded a trade from the Blackhawks after not receiving adequate playing time. Now, he’s back with the roster.READ MORE: Chicago Park District Hosts Polar Adventure Days At Northerly Island
Bowman said that Anisimov has been a player the Blackhawks have long coveted. He has just one year left on his contract, but Bowman is already in works for a contract extension. Anisimov will be an important piece for the 2015-’16 team.
“It’s someone we’ve been chasing for a long time,” Bowman said.
The Blackhawks acquired four forwards who total $5.633 million in salary — subject to change with a Anisimov extension — while Saad was seeking $6.5 million in his next deal. The hard salary cap has been set at $71.4 million — Chicago had about $65 million committed to 14 players before the deal — so the Blackhawks will save a little money.
Now, without the contract of Saad as a concern, Chicago has more flexibility for its offseason.
For his part, Bowman is ready to move forward with what’s next.
“We’ve got a lot of options we can pursue now,” Bowman said.
With Saad out of the picture, the Blackhawks’ offseason is just beginning, now with new pieces aboard.MORE NEWS: Northwestern Medicine Study Gives Clues About How Long COVID-19 Symptoms Can Linger
Follow Chris on Twitter @CEmma670.