In what was one of the bigger NHL trades this off season, the Chicago Blackhawks traded Artemi Panarin, Tyler Motte, and a 2017 6th round pick to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Brandon Saad, Anton Forsberg, and a 2018 5th round pick.
Why Chicago made the move:
* Panarin recorded 151 points over his first two seasons with the Blackhawks, which tied him for 7th in league scoring. There’s nothing to suggest he’ll slow down much — especially if he were to continue playing with Patrick Kane — so he’d undoubtedly be in line for a raise a couple years from now. Saad still has four years left on his deal at a reasonable price of $6 million per so the Blackhawks get more cost certainty. That’s important for perennial contenders.
* Over the last two seasons, Saad averaged 2.14 points per 60 minutes at 5v5 while Panarin averaged 2.09. The former has been more efficient despite a) not spending all of his time with one of the league’s best offensive players and; b) not being spoon fed offensive zone starts (Panarin leads current NHLers in OZS% since entering the league).
* Saad has averaged 1.04 5v5 goals per 60 over the last two years, which ranks him 15th in the NHL and ahead of Alex Ovechkin, Brad Marchand, Joe Pavelski, John Tavares and many of the NHL’s best finishers. Scoring goals is very difficult. Scoring goals at 5v5 is even more difficult and Saad is among the best in that regard.
* Saad is a better two-way player. Panarin’s shot suppression numbers are better but his usage no doubt plays a huge role in that. Panarin starts just 12% of his shifts in the defensive zone while Saad starts 29%. It’s a lot easier to out shoot your opponent when you’re starting a huge chunk of your shifts in the offensive zone.
* Forsberg has 10 NHL games to his name and just one win. He’s struggled when given the chance but his AHL numbers have been terrific for years. Forsberg is still just 24 so it’s entirely possible, if not likely, he can at least hold his own as a backup.
Why Columbus made the move:
* Panarin tallied more points than the likes of Vladimir Tarasenko, Joe Pavelski, Tyler Seguin, Alex Ovechkin, Johnny Gaudreau and John Tavares, among boatloads of others, over the last two seasons. Sure, Panarin was put in ideal situations to produce but he still deserves a lot of credit for doing so. Putting up 70+ points in consecutive years isn’t easy.
* Saad is an excellent player but I think Panarin possesses better puck skills and the ability to create for himself a little more. The Blue Jackets are loaded with north-south guys, albeit not as good as Saad, so Panarin will bring a different, more dynamic element to the table.
* Only 10 players have more assists than Panarin since he entered the league. As far as playmakers go, Panarin is pretty much as good as it gets.
* Panarin’s presence certainly won’t hurt Columbus’ chances of convincing Ilya Kovalchuk to sign with them (if there’s a trade to be made with New Jersey.)
I think this is a trade that will work out well for both teams. Saad is the better two-way player and gives the Blackhawks more club control while the Jackets get the more dynamic, skilled player in Panarin.
Written by Todd Cordell (@ToddCordell)