Saturday, October 10, 2020

NHL Trade Review: Avalanche acquire Saad

From Getty Images


       The Colorado Avalanche have acquired forward Brandon Saad and defenseman Dennis Gilbert from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for defenseman Nikita Zadorov and defenseman Anton Lindholm. The Blackhawks retained $1 million of Saad's contract.

        With a lot of cap space and a want for more scoring, the Avalanche were rumored to be in the Taylor Hall sweepstakes. They could still make a push for him, but Saad is a solid middle-six winger. After Chicago retained some salary, Colorado faces a $5 million cap hit, with Saad becoming a UFA after 20-21. Saad has scored at least 20 goals in five of the past six seasons, and won a pair of Stanley Cups with the Blackhawks. Saad had two great seasons in Columbus (2015-16 and 2016-17), before returning to Chicago in a really bad trade for Artemi Panarin, but he has fallen off a little bit since. With the Avalanche, Saad will have a better team around him, which means a chance to score more goals. Zadorov is an RFA that the Avs don't need, with Sam Girard, Ian Cole, Ryan Graves and top prospect Bowen Byram on the left side, although they could use a right-handed defenseman (Cole can also play both sides). If they need depth, they get that in Gilbert, who played in over a quarter of Chicago's games last season.

         Saad, who will be 28 later this month, scored 21 goals with 12 assists for 33 points in 58 games for the Blackhawks in 2019-20. In his NHL career for Chicago and the Columbus Blue Jackets, Saad has 169 goals with 178 assists for 347 points in 588 games.

         Gilbert, 23 (who's birthday is just three days after Saad's), scored one goal with two assists for three points in 21 games for the Blackhawks in 2019-20, and has one extra NHL game, coming in 2018-19. For the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL last year, Gilbert had one goal with six assists for seven points in 30 games. 

        Even though they (somehow) made the playoffs in 2019-20, the Blackhawks don't look great going into 2020-21, especially with Collin Delia and Malcolm Subban in goal. In this trade, they clear some cap space, although not too much, as immediately afterwards the Blackhawks announced that Zadorov accepted his qualifying offer of one year, worth $3.2 million. The Blackhawks still have Duncan Keith, and Calvin de Haan is solid as well, but behind them the left side is weak, so Zadorov is an improvement over Nick Seeler. That being said, the Blackhawks could use a left winger, even before this trade. Dominik Kubalik is great, but now with Saad gone, there isn't much behind him. Alex DeBrincat could be on his off-side, but the next best pure left winger is either Brandon Pirri or John Quenneville. That is a position that I could see the Blackhawks look to upgrade with their remaining cap space, as well as in goal. Lindholm played in 48 games in 2017-18, but hasn't come close to that total since. He is older than Gilbert, and probably has a little bit less value.

         Zadorov, 25, scored four goals with nine assists for 13 points in 64 games for the Avalanche in 2019-20. In his NHL career for the Avs and Buffalo Sabres, Zadorov has 22 goals with 53 assists for 75 points in 356 games. 

         Lindholm, also 25, had one assist in four game for the Avalanche in 2019-20. In his NHL career, all in Colorado, the 2014 5th rounder has five points, all assists, in 66 games. In 45 games in 2019-20 for the AHL's Colorado Eagles, Lindholm had one goal with two assists for three points. 

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