Dano ‘an exciting player’ for Blackhawks

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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