The Chicago Blackhawks have traded restricted free agent Brandon Saad, defenseman Michael Paliotta and forward Alex Broadhurst to the Columbus Blue Jackets for forwards Artem Anisimov, Marko Dano, Jeremy Morin and Corey Tropp plus a 2016 fourth-round pick, the team announced Tuesday.
The trade ends Saad's tenure with the Hawks a day before he would've been free to accept offer sheets from other teams. In return, Chicago adds significant depth to its forward corps while shedding the need to pay Saad a substantial raise this summer.
Saad, 22, has been a rising star in Chicago over the past few seasons, leading to the difficult situation this summer with his restricted free agency. The Blackhawks are in a cap crunch with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews receiving big raises, and now Saad has become the biggest casualty of the team's need to shed salary.
The forward wanted a six-year deal worth $6.5 million, according to Bob McKenzie of TSN, which explains why the team couldn't afford him. Letting him hit restricted free agency would've been a risky move, so the team instead will take the return in a trade now instead of waiting any longer.
In return for Saad, the Blackhawks receive a quartet of forwards who should immediately help the team fill out next season's roster. The best player coming back is Dano, a 20-year-old center who was drafted in the first round by Columbus in 2013. He recorded 21 points in 35 games as a rookie last season and should compete for a role with the Hawks immediately.
Another big piece is Anisimov, a big, physical center who's coming off a season where he recorded seven goals and 27 points in 52 games. In 2013-14, he was more productive with 22 goals and 39 points in 81 games. He's set to make $3.3 million in 2015-16 before hitting unrestricted free agency next summer.
We'll have more on the deal soon, but for now, the Saad era in Chicago is over.