The Hawks will receive Saad, goalie Anton Forsberg, and a 2018 fifth-round pick from the Blue Jackets for Panarin, forward Tyler Motte, and a 2017 sixth-round pick, as first reported by TSN’s Pierre LeBrun.
The move comes just after the Blackhawks announced that Niklas Hjalmarsson has been traded to the Arizona Coyotes. Clearly, GM Stan Bowman wasn’t messing around when talking about bigger changes coming.
Blackhawks fans will remember Saad from his time in Chicago which saw him play a key role in both the 2013 and 2015 Stanley Cup Championships. Chicago was forced to trade Saad in the summer of 2015 due to his lofty contract demands. Saad has been impressive for Columbus since, posting 58 points in 82 games last year for a strong Columbus squad.
Saad is signed to a $6 million annual contract for the next four seasons, so the Blackhawks are effectively swapping Panarin’s $6 million cap hit with his. The Hawks also get Forsberg, a 24-year-old netminder who has appeared in just 10 games over three seasons for the Blue Jackets. He could figure in as the replacement to Scott Darling as Corey Crawford’s backup next season.
Panarin has been a top-10 NHL scorer in each of his first two seasons in the NHL, and has seen a lot of success on the wing opposite Patrick Kane. He posted 74 points in 82 appearances for Chicago last season, and was recently signed to a two-year extension that runs through 2019, when he’ll be an unrestricted free agent.
Motte was drafted in the fourth round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, and appeared in 33 games early last season for Chicago, posting seven points before spending the rest of the season in Rockford.
This move is mainly about Saad and Panarin, however, with the former returning to take his rightful place in the Blackhawks’ top six. This is a blow to the Blackhawks’ overall scoring ability, but Saad’s two-way game may be a better fit for what the team is trying to do. Saad is also younger and under team control longer, which is win for Chicago.