The Chicago Blackhawks have said all along that their intention was to re-sign Brandon Saad to a new contract, but the team has changed course and opted to trade the winger to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The deal will also send forward Alex Broadhurst and defenseman Michael Paliotta to the Blue Jackets. In return, the Blackhawks will get center Artem Anisimov, center Marko Dano, winger Jeremy Morin, forward Corey Tropp, and a fourth round draft pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.
"Our plan all along was to re-sign Brandon," Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman said of his attempts to sign Saad to a long-term contract extension. "I don't think we came close on a contract."
Saad, who was drafted by the Blackhawks in the second round of the 2011 Draft, blossomed into a star with the team during the postseason, scoring eight goals and dishing out three assists as the Hawks won their third Stanley Cup in six seasons.
In the return, GM Stan Bowman acquired a player who could potentially play second or third line center for the Hawks next season, with Anisimov coming into the fold with one year remaining on a contract that will pay him $3.28 million. The center played in 52 games for the Blue Jackets last seaosn, scoring seven goals and racking up 20 assists.
The Hawks also got a young center in Dano, who will turn 21 years old later this year. He had eight goals and 13 assists in 35 games with the Blue Jackets during the 2014-15 season.
Morin also makes a return to the Blackhawks, as the winger was traded to Columbus last season.
While the trade comes as a shock to Blackhawks fans, a report out from Bob McKenzie of TSN could help shine some light on why the Blackhawks decided to make the move:
If a team had sent in an offer sheet of $6.5 million when free agency opens on Wednesday, the Blackhawks would have been faced with an interesting choice: match the deal and be forced to trade away even more players than they had already anticipated dealing, or decline to match the trade and get the signing team's first, second, and third round draft picks in the 2016 NHL Draft.