After their 2015 Stanley Cup championship, the Chicago Blackhawks shocked their fans by trading Brandon Saad to the Columbus Blue Jackets, but according to a new report, they at least pondered a reunion very shortly after making the deal.
According to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, the Blackhawks “investigated” trading back for Saad during the 2015-16 season, but ultimately decided that they wouldn’t be able to make it work salary cap-wise:
“Speaking of forwards, very curious to see where things go with Columbus and Brandon Saad. He’s fifth on the Blue Jackets in scoring, fifth in time-on-ice among forwards. But he was almost a healthy scratch last week and, somewhere, the team wants to ease its cap crunch. Chicago investigated it last season, but couldn’t make things work. He’s 24 years old and has a lot to give.”
The Blackhawks traded Saad to Columbus in exchange for a package that included Artem Anisimov and Marko Dano (who was later traded for Andrew Ladd), and the winger signed a six-year contract that is paying him $6 million per season in Columbus.
The Hawks had to deal with plenty of salary cap issues last season, so it’s not surprising that they were unable to facilitate a reunion.
If the Blackhawks decided that they wanted to go in that direction now, there are several obstacles that would be present to prevent it. The biggest one of those is the possibility of inking Artemi Panarin to a contract extension, as the winger is looking for a multi-year deal that will pay him in the neighborhood of what Saad’s contract is paying him.
If the Blackhawks wanted to bring Saad back, Panarin would likely be traded or let go after the season, and the Hawks would probably have to make another deal to get some salary cap space. Marcus Kruger’s $3 million contract could be on the chopping block in that scenario, and guys like Brent Seabrook and Corey Crawford could also potentially be among the contracts the team could look to move.
With the amount of money that would have to be shipped out, a Saad reunion seems highly unlikely unless something drastically changes with the salary cap after this season, but it’s still fascinating to hear that the Hawks at least kicked the tires on bringing back a player that played a key role in their 2015 Cup win.