Shortly after landing one of the biggest UFA prizes in Mike Green, the Red Wings made another big move by signing Brad Richards to a one-year deal worth $3 million.
For Richards, 35, it’s his second straight one-year pact. Last year he inked with Chicago and enjoyed a good bounce-back campaign after getting bought out by the Rangers.
Richards’ regular season was solid — 12 goals and 37 points in 76 games — and he stepped up in the playoffs, emerging as a solid contributor in Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup run by scoring 14 points in 23 games, averaging close to 17 minutes a night.
In Detroit, he’ll look to fill the second-line center void that Stephen Weiss was never able to fill.
The Red Wings bought out the former Panthers pivot yesterday, putting Richards in a group of centers that includes youngsters Riley Sheahan and Luke Glendening. Should Richards emerge as Detroit’s 2C, it’ll allow new head coach Jeff Blashill to keep Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg together on the club’s top line.
As for the team Richards left, there was some thought Chicago would have interest in retaining his services. But that possibility was ruled out yesterday when the team acquired center Artem Anisimov in the Brandon Saad trade, then inked Anisimov to a long-term extension.
Related: As Weiss struggles, Datsyuk and Zetterberg are split up
For all the talent they boast up front, and after acquiring Cam Talbot to try and shore up the goaltending, the Edmonton Oilers still needed to address their defense.
They started to do that today by signing veteran blue-liner Andrej Sekera to a long-term deal:
Sekera, 29, split last season between Carolina and Los Angeles. He was traded to the Kings in February, but couldn’t help the then-defending champions into the playoffs.
The Oilers’ defense will continue to change. Nikita Nikitin and Andrew Ference won’t be around much longer, while young Darnell Nurse will be brought into the fold.
Edmonton is also reportedly close to signing center Mark Letestu.
Assuming Artem Anisimov can stay healthy, the 27-year-old should make a fine replacement for Brad Richards at the second-line center spot in Chicago.
It’s the other player that came to the Blackhawks in yesterday’s surprising Brandon Saad trade that’s a bit of a wildcard.
Forward Marko Dano is only 20 years old. The 27th overall pick in 2013, he has just 35 NHL games, with eight goals, to his name.
“He’s an exciting player,” Chicago GM Stan Bowman said, per NHL.com. “He came on to the scene with Columbus last year with maybe not a lot of fanfare, but I think he impressed people. He certainly impressed our scouts with his all-around game. I think when you look at the potential for [Anisimov and Dano] for years to come, we’re very excited to have a [center] and a winger. Those are the main points of the trade.”
Dano, playing on a line with Alexander Wennberg and Scott Hartnell, finished 2014-15 with 15 points in the Jackets’ final 18 games.
“He’s playing big, playing strong, physical in the corners and physical in the battles,” coach Todd Richards said in March, per FOX Sports Ohio. “There’s a lot of skill and ability in him.”
Sure, the Blackhawks would’ve preferred to keep Saad “for years to come.” But the salary cap forced Bowman to make a tough decision, in the pursuit of flexibility.
“We’ve got a lot of options we can pursue now,” the GM said. “It’s too early to tell what we’re going to do, but I would say everything is a possibility going forward.”
Related: Brandon Saad is ‘just out for a Sunday stroll,’ scoring big goal after big goal
The day after the Chicago Blackhawks acquired Artem Anisimov in the Brandon Saad trade, they have completed a five-year contract extension, according to Andy Strickland.
The financial terms of the deal weren’t immediately known, but Anisimov, 27, has one season left on his current three-year, $9.85 million deal.
Update: His contract is worth $22.75 million, per TSN’s Darren Dreger. That works out to a $4.55 million annual cap hit.
Like many members of the 2014-15 Columbus Blue Jackets, Anisimov was limited by health issues last season. In his case, he missed time because of a concussion and later triceps injury, but he still finished with seven goals and 27 points in 52 contests. He averaged 16:22 minutes per contest and was used regularly in both power play and shorthanded situations.
“He’s a player we’ve been trying to acquire for quite some time,” Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman said in Tuesday night’s post-trade conference call. “I talked a long time about our desire to find a big centerman. There’s very few of them in the NHL. You just look around at the 30 teams and to be able to get a guy in the prime of his career at 6-foot-4, who could do a little bit of everything, it’s someone we’ve been chasing for a long time.”
“We were finally able to acquire him. I think he fits in very nicely to our team. He’s able to play offensively as well as the penalty killing role. He’s done a little bit of everything in his career and I think for our needs, to know that we’ve got Toews and Anisimov, for years to come, that was a very big part of this.”
It’s worth noting that Chicago is still in a difficult cap situation despite moving Saad and that could lead to the Blackhawks making additional trades in the near future.
The Columbus Blue Jackets are wasting little time trying to get newly acquired forward Brandon Saad inked to a new deal.
Jackets’ GM Jarmo Kekalainen told reporters on a conference call that they were working on an extension with Saad “as we speak”.
According to Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch, Saad’s agent Lewis Gross hopes to have a long-term extension signed tonight.
Saad’s three-year, $2.8 million entry-level deal expires tomorrow making him a restricted free agent.
Kekalainen also told reporters that an offer sheet on Saad prior to the trade was “not in our plans”.
Saad scored career-high 23 goals and 52 points in 82 regular season games with the Blackhawks. He added 11 points in 23 playoff games winning his second Stanley Cup.
As for where Saad fits in amongst the Jackets’ forward group, Kekalainen feels he’s a “very good candidate” to play on Ryan Johansen’s line next season.
According to Generalfanager.com, the Blue Jackets currently have $13.4 million in cap space to work with heading into free agency.
Related: Bowman on negotiations with Saad: ‘I don’t think we ever came close’