Former Saginaw Spirit captain, and two time Stanley Cup champion, Brandon Saad was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets today in a seven-player deal between the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus.
Saad, along with Alex Broadhurst and defenseman Michael Paliotta were sent to Columbus in exchange for four veteran forwards and a fourth-round draft pick in 2016. Artem Anisimov, Marko Dano, Jeremy Morin, and Corey Tropp were sent to Chicago in the trade.
The Blackhawks had indicated they were planning on keeping Saad, who is a restricted free agent expecting to fetch a long-term deal worth upwards of $5 Million per year, but apparently decided to use the trade in order to alleviate their growing salary cap problem. The Blue Jackets are in better position in terms of their salary cap to match offer's when free agency opens on Wednesday.
Saad, who was drafted by the Blackhawks in the second-round (43 overall) of the 2011 NHL entry draft, is coming off a monumental season, winning his second Stanley Cup in just three years with Chicago. The 22 year old Pittsburgh native scored 23 goals and added 29 assists for 52 points (all career high's) this past season. He ranked third on the team in goals, fifth in assists, and fourth in points during the regular season. He added 11 points, including a career-best eight goals in 23 playoff games during Chicago's 2015 Stanley Cup run.
Saad will join another pair of former Spirit captains in Columbus when they report for training camp in August. Former Spirit captain Dalton Prout just completed his first full season with the Blue Jackets after making his NHL debut with the club in 2012. Prout spent parts of the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons bouncing between the Blue Jackets and their AHL affiliate, the Springfield Falcons. Former Spirit Nick Moutrey was drafted by the Blue Jackets in the fourth-round (105 overall) in the 2013 NHL entry draft.
The Spirit bolstered their blueline when they selected Markus Niemelainen -from Kuopio, Finland- with the eighteenth pick in the CHL import-draft earlier today. Niemelainen, a 1998 born left-shooting defenseman, brings a wealth of international experience (along with his 6-foot-4 inch, 180-pound frame) to Saginaw.
He represented his home country of Finland at the world under-17 hockey challenge in Sarnia, ON this past November, and also at the 2015 IIHF under-18 world championships in Lucerne, Switzerland in April where Finland took home the silver medal.
Niemelainen, who skated with HPK Hameenlinna in Finland last year, will be eligible for the 2016 NHL entry draft; which takes place in Buffalo next June.