The shock of the Chicago Blackhawks' trade of Brandon Saad is going to take some time to get over. After all, this was a player virtually guaranteed to return for the 2015-16 season and beyond. Even if he hit free agency with RFA status, there seemed to be no way that the Hawks would let him get away. Even an offer sheet wouldn't stave off the Hawks, who were a lock to match any offer. Brandon Saad was always a lock to return. Until he wasn't.
There's obviously tremendous upside in Brandon Saad. He plays a strong two-way game out on the wing, drawing those comparisons to Marian Hossa, and has unbelievable speed. He looked like he had established himself as a part of this Hawks' core, with Patrick Sharp looking to be the guy he'd replace in that group. Obviously the intention out of the gate wasn't to let Saad get away, and Bowman's words echo that sentiment.
But it wasn't meant to be. Saad's camp simply wanted too much. With Bob McKenzie reporting that Saad was asking for a six-year contract and a $6.5 million annual figure, there's simply no way that was going to work. Sure, Saad said that money wasn't that large a factor and mentioned a discount at some point, but these are professional athletes. The market dictates everything. Unfortunately for the Hawks, it led to his departure.
At the same time, though, there are a handful of positives to come out of this deal. Ultimately, while it's disappointing that such a young, emerging talent like Saad had to be traded, Stan Bowman did the best he could with the hand he was dealt. With his back already up against the metaphorical wall of a salary cap, he didn't have a lot of wiggle room to pay Brandon Saad an obscene amount like his camp asked for. Instead, the four forwards acquired by Bowman in the deal should play nicely for the Hawks.
The prizes are obviously Artem Anisimov and Marko Dano. In acquiring the two, the Hawks likely solve their second and third line center vacancies that had come into existence with the likely departures of Antoine Vermette and Brad Richards. They get younger down the middle as a result, and bring in a pair of players with arguably more upside.
I've been an Anisimov fan since this happened in 2011. He's dealt with some injury problems in two of the last three seasons, including just 52 games in 2014-15. But at 6'4", he brings some nice size in the middle of that second line. He has a career success rate of just about 47 percent at the faceoff circle, and while that's not terrific he has smooth hands and vision that should help to overcompensate and make him very successful playing next to Patrick Kane.
The added benefit here is the fact that the Hawks are already approaching an extension with Anisimov, believed to be the tune of five years. If they can limit whatever the increase in money may be from his current $3,283,333 cap hit, that's a terrific get. He has plenty of upside that hasn't been realized, and playing next to Kane, and potentially Teuvo Teravainen on the other side, should help him to do just that.
Marko Dano's a former first round pick that a lot of people are excited about in relation to this deal. He's a hard-nosed center who brings nice speed and a two-way presence to the middle. He's not particularly big, at 5'11", but is strong and plays well in his own end, with more offensive upside than Marcus Kruger. And he's only 20 (Satchel will have a more in-depth look at him in the coming days).
The rest of the deal includes the type of players that the cash-strapped Hawks needed. We know what Jeremy Morin brings, and so does Joel Quenneville. It's interesting that he's part of the deal, given that he previously requested a trade out of Chicago due to a lack of playing time. Could he be flipped in another deal? Corey Tropp is a high energy guy and could end up being "just a guy", but he's young and could end up serving as an effective fourth liner.
Yes, Brandon Saad going isn't ideal. You lose a tremendous piece of a Stanley Cup winning team, and a 22-year-old that was set to be an impact player well into the future. But at the same time, with the unfortunate situation that was created, it might not be a stretch at all to say that the Hawks come out of this with their roster, as a whole, in better shape than before. There's still plenty of work to be done, but once the shock and sadness subside, there is legitimate reason to be excited about this deal.
Randy Holt is a staff writer for Second City Hockey. You can follow him on Twitter @RandallPnkFloyd.