The loss of Panarin is a big blow for Chicago.
That change came in loud fashion Friday morning just before the start of draft weekend in Chicago with the Blackhawks dealing 2016 Calder trophy victor Artemi Panarin to Columbus in a package that brings back Brandon Saad.
The Blackhawks also sent Tyler Motte and a 2017 sixth-round pick to the Blue Jackets in return for Saad, Anton Forsberg and a 2018 fifth-rounder. He became a restricted free agent after the title run in 2015, and Bowman traded the rugged winger to the Blue Jackets when the team was unable to hammer out a new deal with the Pittsburgh native.
Plus, as TSN's Frank Seravalli notes, some of Chicago's veterans might have vouched for his return, letting it be known "how much they missed Saad".
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The Blackhawks received defensemen Connor Murphy and Laurent Dauphin in Friday's trade. Saad scored 24 goals and 26 assists for the Blue Jackets last season. Saad is also signed to a deal that will pay him $6 million per season, though his deal lasts for four years rather than Panarin's two - a factor that might have been taken into consideration when making the swap for the Blackhawks. He scored four goals and notched three assists in 33 games with the Blackhawks last year-his first year in the National Hockey League.
"This is a dynamic player who's got tremendous speed and quickness and that 1-on-1 ability to create odd-man situations, and with his skill just create time in space and scoring opportunities", Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said.
Panarin teamed with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov to form one of the NHL's most potent lines. He split a year ago between Arizona and AHL Tucson, and was a good scorer at the minor league level (28 points in 38 games). He's a warrior who played a key role in Chicago's last three Stanley Cup wins.
Saad scored 24 goals and picked up 29 assists for the Blue Jackets past year as they racked up one of the best records in the National Hockey League.
Chicago will try to replace Hjalmarsson, a sneaky piece on defence, with Murphy, who's six years younger with contractual control ($3.85 million cap hit) for five more seasons.
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