The Columbus Blue Jackets made arguably the biggest splash in their history when they traded for Brandon Saad during the 2015 offseason. He was expected to help lead the franchise for the foreseeable future. However, according to Elliotte Friedman.
He’s been their best player for as long as he’s been there. However, due to long-term salary cap issues, most of them revolving around David Clarkson’s buyout proof contract, the Blue Jackets might not have a choice. Saad could fetch them a very strong return and help them further rebuild their prospect system. Here are five teams who should consider trading for him.
5. Chicago Blackhawks
The Chicago Blackhawks probably made a mistake when they traded Brandon Saad. It was something they didn’t want to do, but thanks to the salary cap, they had to do it. How much do they miss him? As Friedman noted, the Blackhawks tried to trade for him last season.
Saad would be an excellent fit for Chicago. He knows them and they know him. Also, Saad put up some very impressive numbers alongside Jonathan Toews. They’ve been looking for a wing to flank their captain ever since trading the two-time Stanley Cup champion to Columbus.
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Do the Blackhawks have what it takes to get Saad? Maybe not, but their front office has worked magic before. So don’t count them out.
4. New York Islanders
The New York Islanders are a desperate team. After a slow start, general manager Garth Snow has to realize he’s on the hot seat. While he put his faith in the coaching staff, it’s up to him to deliver and give them quality players. The Islanders have other issues as well, but their biggest one is they never replaced Kyle Okposo. John Tavares deserves better wings than he has, so a trade for Brandon Saad makes sense for New York.
They have what it takes to at least get the Blue Jackets to listen. Josh Ho Sang, Michael Dal Colle, Ryan Strome, and Matthew Barzal could all be on the table. Snow has implied he doesn’t want to give up those guys, but if he wants to keep his job, there’s no other option. Everyone knows he wants a forward so good luck getting one without paying a premium price.
Saad would be a great fit for the Islanders. He gives them a proven forward who can score goals. Also, Saad would give the Islanders some extra leadership, something that they’ve missed this season. He’s a two-time Stanley Cup champion and could be a very valuable mentor for their young players.
However, do the Blue Jackets really want to trade Saad to a division rival? Who knows. But the Islanders certainly have the means necessary to at least perk their interest.
3. New Jersey Devils
The New Jersey Devils are in darn good shape after trading for Taylor Hall. Hall has been nothing short of a blessing for them. He’s going to be a huge leader for them for the foreseeable future. However, they could still use some more help on offense. In today’s NHL, you need more than one star forward. The Pittsburgh Penguins suggest you need at worst two. With Hall being the Devils’ lone star forward, they should consider trading for Brandon Saad.
He would give them two star forwards. Sure, Saad isn’t quite the star that Hall is. But he’s undeniably one of the NHL’s top wings. There’s an argument they should be going after a star center, and they probably should. But even if they pursue a star center, why not ensure the center in question has a great wing like Saad flanking him?
However, the Devils might not have what it takes to get him. If the Blue Jackets are going to trade Saad within the division, one can assume they’ll want a big haul in return. New Jersey might be forced to have to include Pavel Zacha because they don’t have any other top prospects. Considering Zacha has the potential to be a top center, they shouldn’t do it. But Devils general manager Ray Shero has a knack for getting what he wants.
2. Minnesota Wild
The Minnesota Wild would have to move out some cap space in order to trade for Brandon Saad. However, he would make a lot of sense for them. Also, the Wild could easily move somebody like Marco Scandella, even accepting pennies on the dollar for him. They figure to lose him in the expansion draft anyway.
Saad would give the Wild yet another exciting young forward. He also would help ease the scoring burden on Zach Parise and Charlie Coyle. Bruce Boudreau loves having dynamic forwards and Saad is definitely a dynamic forward. Best of all, he fits into their plans both short-term and long-term. Short-term, the Wild want to compete for a Stanley Cup. Long-term, they want to have a consistent contender.
Columbus would probably like to move Saad out of the Eastern Conference because they don’t want to face him a bunch of times each season. Ergo, Minnesota would be an ideal destination for him. Also, Saad is quite familiar with the Central Division, having spent the first part of his career with the Blackhawks. This means the Wild are familiar with him as well. Saad has eight points in 15 career games against Minnesota.
1. Carolina Hurricanes
The Carolina Hurricanes are in a unique position. Sure, their record looks terrible, but they are an exciting young team. Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen lead an impressive core of young players who should be important building blocks moving forward. However, they could use some leadership and their young players would benefit from having a proven winner around. Brandon Saad fits the bill.
Carolina has the means necessary to make a trade for the Blue Jackets forward, even considering Columbus probably wants a huge haul to trade him within the Metropolitan Division. The Hurricanes also have the most cap space in the NHL and they’ll have even more cap space after this season. So a trade for Saad accomplishes two things for them. First, it gets them an excellent player. Secondly, it helps them get to the salary floor.