Don’t bother putting an offer sheet in front of Brandon Saad.
That’s the message Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has been sending, with a little help from the media, to his counterparts around the league.
Moments after the ‘Hawks won the Stanley Cup on Monday, Bowman told reporters: “I just talked to [Saad] right after we won. We gave a hug and I said, ‘This is the first of many; we’re going to win a lot together.’ He gave me a big hug and said, ‘Let’s go.’ So, no, he’s going to be here. I don’t think he would want to leave after this scene here.”
Today, Bowman reiterated that message, all but guaranteeing he’d re-sign the 22-year-old pending restricted free agent who scored so many big goals for the ‘Hawks during these past playoffs:
While Saad wasn’t quite as certain as his GM, he clearly does want to be back:
In 2010, the ‘Hawks matched the four-year, $14 million offer sheet that defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson signed with San Jose. Chicago had the option to receive the Sharks’ first- and third-round draft picks in the 2011 draft as compensation. The decision to match ultimately led to the departure of free-agent goalie Antti Niemi (to San Jose, interestingly).
If the Blackhawks do end up signing Saad, they’ll likely need to trade at least one of their veteran forwards. Patrick Sharp and Bryan Bickell have each had their names come up in speculation.
It’s also not clear which, if any, pending unrestricted free agents will be back. Johnny Oduya, Antoine Vermette, Brad Richards, Andrew Desjardins and Michal Rozsival are all without contracts for next season.