Blackhawks

Blackhawks and Blue Jackets both going through own challenges of Artemi Panarin and Brandon Saad trade

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks and Blue Jackets both going through own challenges of Artemi Panarin and Brandon Saad trade

COLUMBUS — The Blackhawks and Blue Jackets blockbuster trade from the 2017 offseason is always a hot topic in Chicago when things aren't going great. It especially is when the two teams square off against each other, like Saturday at Nationwide Arena for the first time this season.

If it wasn't already apparent in Chicago, Artemi Panarin has emerged as a real NHL superstar and is set for a giant payday when he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2019. He set a Blue Jackets record with 82 points in a single season and has nine points (three goals, six assists) through six games this season.

Brandon Saad, on the other hand, had a challenging first year back with the Blackhawks in 2017-18 after netting only 35 points in 82 games and is off to a slow start this year as well with zero goals and two assists through six games. After a demotion to the fourth line, he was close to being a healthy scratch on Thursday, which only magnifies where things are at as the two get ready to clash.

But Saad was never going to be able to replace Panarin's offensive production. Everybody knows that. Yet, the offensive comparisons will always be there as a barometer and that's something Saad doesn't think about, no matter how much fans talk about it.

"I don't think I do it," he said. "We're different players. He's a great player. Fans are going to do whatever comparisons they want, but at the end of the day you've got to be true to yourself and do what you bring to the table. He's a great player around the league. You can see his highlights and his goals, he's definitely a special player. But at the end of the day I've got confidence in my abilities too. We both bring different attributes, but they're going to make comparisons regardless."

A big reason why the Blackhawks reacquired Saad, other than his ability to play a 200-foot game, is because he carries a $6 million cap hit through 2020-21, which is two years more than Panarin at the same cap hit. (It's also important to note that the Blackhawks hoped they were getting a reliable, young backup goaltender in Anton Forsberg, but the injury to Corey Crawford thrust him into a role he wasn't exactly prepared for.)

It's not all rainbows for Columbus right now regarding where things stand with Panarin, who has made it clear he's not ready to sign a long-term extension. All signs point to the 26-year-old winger hitting the market, putting the Blue Jackets in a tricky situation ahead of the trade deadline. The Blackhawks very well could have found themselves in this position, too, had a deal not been made.

Both sides are dealing with their own challenges of the trade. Saad is still a key piece to the Blackhawks' puzzle and they're hoping to get more out of him, for no other reason than the team's overall success.

"You want to have success regardless of who you're playing for, who you're traded for, things like that," Saad said. "Naturally, just as competitors, you want to bring that excitement and you want to have success with the team and personally."

Listen to your captain: Jonathan Toews reminds everyone to stay home

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USA Today

Listen to your captain: Jonathan Toews reminds everyone to stay home

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews is showing off his leadership skills during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today, Toews appeared on the Blackhawks’ Instagram to remind fans of the importance of social distancing as part of the "We Are Not Playing" movement.

Toews has been doing his part to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic by staying home, as well as donating $100,000 to the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund through the Jonathan Toews Foundation. 

Patrick Kane has decided to join Toews to encourage fans to practice social distancing. Kane posted a video to Twitter for Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzger’s All In Illinois campaign, thanking healthcare workers and reminding Illinois residents to do their part and stay inside. 

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Top 10 Blackhawks we wish stuck around longer

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NBC Sports

Top 10 Blackhawks we wish stuck around longer

    Hockey is a business, and because of that, players get moved frequently.

Salary caps, trades, free agency; all of that factors into player movement and often results in fan-favorites leaving a team.

We took to social media and asked Blackhawks fans which players they wished they saw more of in a Blackhawks sweater.

From Bobby Orr to Rick Vaive to Robin Lehner, the responses stretched across decades.

Here are the 10 Blackhawks players fans wish would have stuck around a little bit longer

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