One thing General Manager of the Chicago Blackhawks, Stan Bowman, is not afraid to do, is make a blockbuster deal. Especially when you have the salary cap to contend with year after year. This year was no different.
Before the start of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, Bowman traded superstar, Artemi Panarin, along with forward, Tyler Motte, and a 6th round draft pick, for former Blackhawks hero, and two-time Stanley Cup champion, Brandon Saad, goaltender, Anton Forsberg, and a 5h round draft pick in the 2018 draft.
Panarin, 25, was the bake to the shake, when paired with former linemate, Patrick Kane. One of the best one-timers in the league, Panarin captured the Calder Trophy for Rookie of the Year honors in 2016. A huge fan favorite, in his two NHL seasons, he has accumulated 151 points (61G 90A), in 162 games. Panarin had just signed a 2-year, $12 mil contract extension, a $6mil cap hit, which he will take to Columbus with him.
Saad, 24, was a major piece of the 2013 and 2015 Stanley Cup championships in Chicago. After the 2015 season he was traded to the Blue Jackets for Artem Anisimov. Saad, was brought back to play with Jonathan Toews, no question. Since his departure, Toews has struggled to find a linemate that worked so well with him. Saad brings a game very similar to Marian Hossa, a complete, two-way player game. He isn't a flashy player, but is a grinder and will make the plays. In the two seasons he was in Columbus, he tallied 55 goals, just 6 fewer than Panarin.
Forsberg, 24, was brought in as a good candidate to replace Scott Darling as the #2 goalie behind Corey Crawford. He played in one game for Columbus last year, but the Hawks were impressed with his play in the AHL playoffs last year.
So will this help the Blackhawks? Answer, yes. Saad is a complete player whereas Panarin is pure offense. Saad, although carries the same salary cap hit as Panarin, $6mil, is signed for four years, compared to Panarin's two. Kane can play with anyone and generate points. Toews and Saad were a tandum that no one wanted to deal with. Saad also has more experience and is a year younger than Panarin. Also, they gained another draft pick for next year.
The little things are what add up in a league like this where the salary cap forces teams to rip rosters apart in order to stay competitive. Blackhawk fans should be used to this happening by now. They ripped apart the 2010 Cup champions and then won two more Cups within five years. How many other teams have done so in the salary cap era besides Pittsburgh?