The Chicago Blackhawks have been adamant all along that they want to re-sign restricted free agent Brandon Saad to a new contract, but according to a new report, the two sides may not be as close as one would hope.
According to Jay Zawaski of 670 the Score, the two sides are still far apart on terms of a new deal. The Blackhawks are looking for a deal in the range of $2.8 million per season for two years according to Zawaski, while Saad’s camp is looking for a longer-term deal in the $4 million per season range.
There is a sense of urgency on the part of the Blackhawks to get a deal done before Wednesday, as that marks the beginning of NHL free agency. If Saad gets to that point without a contract, another team will likely swoop in and offer him a sizable offer sheet. Some connected reporters have suggested that a deal for Saad could climb above $5 million per season, and while that’s still a number that the Blackhawks could match, it would likely require more painful salary cap cuts than they would have liked to make.
Saad isn’t the only player that is going to hit restricted free agency on Wednesday, adding another wrinkle to the story. Marcus Kruger will also be available for an offer sheet on Wednesday, and if the Blackhawks have to pony up big money for Saad, then Kruger could be in play for other organizations, much like Antti Niemi was in 2010 when the Hawks were forced to match an offer sheet on Niklas Hjalmarsson.
If Saad gets an offer sheet for above $5.05 million, then the Blackhawks would get a first, second and third round draft pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft if they declined to match. That is huge at this point, as it still appears likely that the winger will end up back with Chicago one way or another.