Rumor Rundown: Chicago Overhauling, Panarin For Saad?

The Chicago Blackhawks appear to be overhauling their roster heading into the NHL Entry Draft on Friday evening. Already having moved Niklas Hjalmarsson to the Arizona Coyotes, the Blackhawks earlier shed themselves of Marian Hossa’s contract and are moving Artemi Panarin to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Brandon Saad.

Why Panarin?

Artemi Panarin has been a big free agent signing for the Blackhawks. (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

This is a shocking turn of events as Panarin was one of the Blackhawks most productive forwards. He is only one year removed from winning the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year. That said, by himself, he is also expensive, only has two years remaining on his current contract and it speaks to the Blackhawks willingness to shake up the roster.

Saad offers Chicago four more years as a $6 million hit and that potentially has value to Chicago who was going to have to provide a raise to Panarin in the neighborhood of $7.5-$8 .5 million. Overall, the cap has greatly affected the Blackhawks ability to make moves and combined with how poorly the team performed in the playoffs, the timing was perfect for a blockbuster.

Brandon Saad is a strong player, but not in the same league as Panarin who had 31 goals and 74 points last season. Panarin has the potential to be a 100-point player. Meanwhile, Saad’s highest point total was 53 in a single season.

It is unclear as of now if there is salary being retained by Columbus in the deal.

The Goal for the Blackhawks

The trade moved extremely quickly and was probably a no-brainer for the Columbus Blue Jackets. That said, one has to wonder what the overall objective of Stan Bowman is?

The Chicago Blackhawks had a very disappointing postseason and general manager Stan Bowman said changes were coming. Apparently, he wasn’t kidding. This is the type of trade that could shake up the NHL summer and get the ball rolling in terms of action on Friday. It’s also the type of trade that will have people wondering what the Blackhawks are thinking.

The Blackhawks just got weaker up front, but Bowman is not prepared to stand pat and do nothing as he watches his team struggle for the first time in years. Panarin will be missed on the power play and Saad will help the Blackhawks in their 5-on-5 play.