CHICAGO – If fans weren’t convinced that the Blackhawks were going into a rebuilding mode after their decision not to re-sign Corey Crawford, then Saturday may have been another tipping point.
Once again, Brandon Saad is heading out of Chicago through a trade.
The forward along with defenseman Dennis Gilbert have been traded to the Avalanche in exchange for a pair of defenseman – Nikita Zadorov and Anton Lindholm. As part of the deal, the Blackhawks will retain $1 millon of Saad’s $6 millon 2020-2021 salary.
Spending seven of his nine NHL seasons in Chicago, Saad was in his second stint with the team after arriving back in 2017 from Columbus as part of the Artemi Panarin trade. The forward had the strongest of his last three seasons in the pandemic-shortened 2019-2020 campaign, scoring 21 goals with 12 assists through 58 games.
Saad also had two goals and three assists in nine postseason games against the Oilers and the Golden Knights.
Gilbert split time between the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL last season and the Blackhawks, playing 21 games at the NHL level. In those contests, he had a goal and two assists.
Zadorov comes to Chicago with seven years of NHL experience on a one-year, $3.2 million dollar contract he signed before the trade. He’s been in Colorado the last five seasons after starting his career with the Sabres, who drafted him with the 16th-overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft.
He appeared in 64 regular season games in 2019-2020, scoring four goals with nine assists, then played in 15 postseason contests for the Avalanche. In those games he had three goals and two assists.
Lindholm comes to Chicago with four years and 66 NHL games under his belt, but most of those came in his first two years in Colorado. After playing in 60 contests in 2016-2017 and 2017-2018, he’s only been with the team for six games the last two campaigns. He took the ice mostly for the Colorado Eagles of the AHL.
Clearly the Blackhawks are hoping to get what they can from the defensemen as Stan Bowman continues to position the roster for a rebuild. Crawford and now Saad’s departure helps to free up some money for the general manager as he continues to focus on building a youthful core around veterans Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Duncan Keith.