Trade: Blackhawks send Brandon Saad to Avalanche to save money

Trade: Blackhawks send Brandon Saad to Avalanche to save money
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The Chicago Blackhawks traded Brandon Saad — again — this time in a deal with the Colorado Avalanche.

Multiple reporters (along with Nikita Zadorov‘s agent Dan Milstein) report that the trade happened.

Via The Athletic’s Ryan S. Clark, among others:

Avalanche receive: Brandon Saad ($5 million cap hit after retention) and Dennis Gilbert.

Blackhawks’ side: They retained $1M from Saad’s contract, also gain Nikita Zadorov’s RFA signing rights, and Anton Lindholm.

Blackhawks trade Brandon Saad to Avalanche

According to Cap Friendly, this leaves the Avalanche with almost $10 million in cap space. Adding Saad doesn’t necessarily keep Colorado from seeking Alex Pietrangelo or Taylor Hall, at least technically speaking. But with Ryan Graves and Tyson Jost lingering as remaining RFAs, it seems like the Avalanche are buying in the midrange of the market, rather than going big game hunting. But we’ll see.

Saad somehow is only 27. Considering all he’s been through — plenty of Blackhawks fans probably flinch at the phrase “Brandon Saad trade” — it’s easy to get wrapped up in Artemi Panarin‘s dominance and forget that Saad is quite good.

On paper, it wouldn’t be shocking if Saad ends up being a nice fit for the Avalanche. But he’s not exactly the flashiest one.

This continues a busy Saturday for Colorado, as they also locked up RFAs Andre Burakovsky and Valeri Nichushkin. While this isn’t as exciting as going all-in and convincing Hall and Pietrangelo to buy in for a year, this is also lower risk than signing a free agent for big term. Saad’s contract expires after 2020-21, so consider this an early rental for the Avs.

The Blackhawks get a chance to mildly upgrade their defense, though one wonders if Chicago might have been able to shake a prospect from Colorado instead. Or a pick.

After allowing Corey Crawford to leave for New Jersey on what was a pretty digestible deal, it sure feels like the Blackhawks have at least one foot in the old tank. But we’ll see if GM Stan Bowman has any other tricks up his sleeves.

At the moment, though? A tidy bit of business for the Avalanche, which feels like a phrase you can use pretty frequently these days.

That said, it’s natural to ask: should they have swung for the fences instead of making nice contact here?

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The Blackhawks drafted Dennis Gilbert, 23, with a third-round pick (91st overall) back in the 2015 NHL Draft. He’s played in 22 regular season games, including 21 this past season, scoring one goal and two assists for three points.

Meanwhile, the Avalanche selected Anton Lindholm, 25, with a fifth-rounder (144th) in 2014. He appeared in 66 NHL games so far. He only played in four during 2019-20, while the 2017-18 campaign (48 games played) ranked as his longest look.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.