We all knew there were going to be changes with the Blackhawks. Who knew Brandon Saad would be the biggest change?
But general manager Stan Bowman was already looking past what he lost on Tuesday night and what he gained after trading Saad to the Columbus Blue Jackets. He got a second-line center, one that he’s wanted for a while. He got a young, up-and-coming player who can bring a physical game. And he got a player the Blackhawks organization knows well.
The Blackhawks got four players in what was a seven-player deal between them and the Blue Jackets for Saad on Tuesday: Artem Anisimov, Marko Dano, Jeremy Morin and Corey Tropp. How Morin and Tropp fit into the equation remains to be seen, but there’s no doubt the first two could bring much to the Blackhawks’ roster.
Anisimov gives the Blackhawks the second-line center they’ve been looking to get for some time now. The 6-foot-4, 198-pound Anisimov is in the final year of his current contract. But Bowman has been talking to Anisimov’s agent and said that the center and the team are “close to completing an extension.”
[MORE BLACKHAWKS: Blackhawks trade Brandon Saad to Blue Jackets]
“To get this guy in the prime of his career, it’s someone we’ve been chasing for a long time,” Bowman said. “He fits in very nicely to our team. He’s able to play offensively as well as the penalty-killing role. He’s done a little of everything in his career. For our needs, to know we’ve got (Jonathan) Toews and Anisimov for years to come, that was a big part of this.”
Dano just finished his NHL rookie season with the Blue Jackets, recording eight goals and 13 assists in 35 games. Dano grew up in Trenčín, Slovakia, where Marian Hossa currently lives. Bowman said Dano is another player that impressed the Blackhawks brass from afar.
“He plays a high-energy game; he’s strong, competitive, physical. The goals he scores are from around the net, and he’s not afraid to go into the corners and battle,” Bowman said. “I haven’t had a chance to speak to him yet, but most of the young players in Slovakia idolize guys like Hossa. To play on a team with Marian, it’s been pretty well documented how (Hossa) has had a positive impact on a lot of our other players. Dano could be another guy along those lines. He’s a nice player to add to the mix we have, and he’ll surprise people with his all-around game.”
The big surprise out of this deal — well, other than the surprise of the deal itself, of course — was Morin coming back into the fold. He was clearly frustrated in his last few months with the Blackhawks, when his playing time was limited. Whether or not Morin even makes the roster this season is uncertain.
[SHOP BLACKHAWKS: Get your Blackhawks gear right here]
“We don’t hand out jobs in the summer time. Those are won in camp,” Bowman said. “We have young players on the verge of being players, be it Corey or Jeremy or a combination of other players. In Jeremy’s case, come to camp, you have a lot of talent and we’ll see how he plays. Ultimately, the competition is going to come down to which guys deserves to be on the team.”
The Blackhawks have already made some big changes, even if they weren’t the changes we all envisioned a few weeks ago. Bowman said it was a difficult decision to trade Saad. But it was clear the two sides were not going to agree, and the Blackhawks wanted to get what they needed out of the deal.
“Sometimes you have to make moves. Although we traded away a really good player, we added two we’re very high on,” Bowman said. “We’re excited about the next chapter here and the players that we have.”