Blackhawks deal Brandon Saad to Blue Jackets in 7-player swap

The Chicago Blackhawks traded forwards Brandon Saad and Alex Broadhurst and defenseman Michael Paliotta to the Columbus Blue Jackets for forwards Artem Anisimov, Marko Dano, Jeremy Morin, Corey Tropp and a 2016 fourth-round pick on Tuesday.

Saad, 22, has 52 goals and 74 assists in 208 career regular-season games with the Blackhawks, including 23 goals and 29 assists in 82 games last season. He is set to become a restricted free agent, and Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman had previously said re-signing him was the priority for the offseason.

"It's a challenge to try to negotiate a contract, and we gave it our best shot," Bowman said. "We worked hard at it with Brandon and his agent and weren't able to reach an agreement. And when that became apparent, we turned our focus to trying to improve our team for next season."

Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said Tuesday that his team is working on a contract extension for Saad, adding that talks "accelerated pretty quickly."

"We want winners here, and he's a proven winner," Kekalainen said. "He won two Stanley Cups. He's 22 years old, he's been a big part of it. He's got all the right tools. He's got speed, he's got size, he's got strength and he plays the game hard."

Broadhurst, 22, had six goals and 14 assists in 29 games with the Rockford IceHogs last season. He sat out most of the season with an injury.

Paliotta, 22, recently signed with the Blackhawks after completing his college career at Vermont. He was among the top defensemen in college this past season and was drafted by the Blackhawks in the third round in 2011.

Anisimov, 27, had seven goals and 20 assists in 52 games for the Blue Jackets last season. He has 86 goals and 106 assists in 412 career NHL games.

Bowman said he has been in negotiations with Anisimov's agent for a contract extension and they're close to finalizing a deal. Anisimov has one year remaining on his current contract and has a $3.283 million cap hit for next season.

"He's a player we've been trying to acquire for quite some time," Bowman said. "I've talked a long time about our desire to find a big centerman. There's very few of them in the NHL. You just look around the 30 teams. To be able to get a guy in the prime of his career at 6-foot-4 who can do a little bit of everything, it's someone we've been chasing a long time. We were finally able to acquire him. I think he fits in real nice to our team. He's able to play offensively as well as the penalty-killing role. He's done a little bit of everything in his career. For our needs, to know we have (Jonathan) Toews and Anisimov for years to come, that was a very big part of this."

Dano, 20, had eight goals and 13 assists in 35 games in his rookie season this past year. He also had 11 goals and eight assists with the Springfield Falcons of the AHL. He was drafted in the first round in 2013 by the Blue Jackets.

Morin, 24, returns to the Blackhawks after being traded to the Blue Jackets last season. He had two goals and four assists in 43 NHL games last season.

Tropp, 25, had one goal and seven assists in 61 games for the Blue Jackets last season. He has six goals and 21 assists in 148 career NHL games.

Bowman envisions Dano fitting in nicely with the Blackhawks and said Morin and Tropp could compete for NHL spots in training camp.

"In addition, we have a young player in Marko Dano who we think has a very bright future," Bowman said. "He kind of came onto the scene this year without a lot fanfare and he had 21 points in 35 games in Columbus. I think he opened a lot of people's eyes with his ability. I think when you look at that potential for those two for years to come, we're very excited to have a centerman and a winger."