Anisimov excited to join Hawks; Detroit signs Richards

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Former Columbus Blue Jackets center Artem Anisimov, left, has signed a five-year extension with the Blackhawks.

    Former Columbus Blue Jackets center Artem Anisimov, left, has signed a five-year extension with the Blackhawks. Associated Press/file

 
 
Updated 7/2/2015 5:00 AM

The new Hawk is excited.

The up-and-coming superstar -- now an ex-Hawk -- admitted he was "a little shocked."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

And a longtime NHL veteran is now on his third team in as many seasons, moving on to the hated Red Wings.

Day 1 of NHL free agency opened with a flurry of moves around the league, and while the Blackhawks stayed mostly quiet as they attempt to compile a roster that somehow fits under the $71.4 million salary cap, they did manage to make some big news.

The first order of business was coming to terms with 27-year-old Russian Artem Anisimov on a five-year extension worth a reported $22.75 million that will begin in 2016-17. He has one year remaining on his current deal ($3.28 million cap hit).

Speaking in somewhat broken English during a conference call with reporters Wednesday morning, Anisimov said he was "really excited to sign" with the Hawks.

"Every year (they) battle for the Stanley Cup, for the playoffs," said Anisimov, whom the Hawks acquired along with three other players and a draft pick Tuesday for Brandon Saad and Michael Paliotta. "To sign for five years in Chicago is big for me."

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Just a couple of hours earlier, Saad told reporters the trade to Columbus caught him off-guard.

"I was a little bit shocked and obviously a little sad to go," Saad said. "You build relationships, bond with guys and have experiences with them, but at the end of the day you understand the business part of it and I'm looking forward to a new opportunity and I'm excited to move on and start a new chapter in my career."

Despite those words, there were multiple reports that Saad was crushed when told of the trade. Saad said he was letting his agent handle negotiations with the Hawks and wouldn't comment when asked if he thought his agent's offers were fair.

As for a hometown discount?

"That is something that crosses your mind," Saad said, "but at the same time with the Blackhawks and how close they are to the cap, you knew something was going to happen with me or someone else, and this time it was my time to go."

His teammates certainly will miss a player who already has been on two Stanley Cup winning teams and was huge in this year's title run.

Tweeted Andrew Shaw: "Wishing a good teammate friend and great roommate the best of luck with his new team u will be missed buddy."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Meanwhile, Brad Richards signed a one-year deal with the Detroit Red Wings worth $3 million with playoff bonuses making it possible for him to make $4 million.

Once the Hawks traded for Anisimov, then extended him, it was clear Richards' brief tenure in Chicago was over.

"You don't really get to pick and choose and write your story," Richards said. "And I can't ask for any more than what happened (with the Hawks)."

The Hawks also signed Russian C/RW Viktor Tikhonov on Wednesday. He is a former first-round pick of the Arizona Coyotes and spent the last four years playing in Russia.

Along with Artemi Panarin, whom the Hawks signed in late April, the Hawks now have three Russians on the roster. Anisimov said he hopes to help Panarin's transition to the league an easier one.

"I talked to him and he's not speaking English and I'm going to help him around (and) adapt in the NHL a little bit," Anisimov said. "It's going to be good to have some Russians on this team."

Anisimov missed 30 games last season with Columbus because of injuries, but he was a 22-goal scorer in 2013-14.

Now he might get the chance to center the Hawks' second line with Patrick Kane on one wing and a yet-to-be-determined player on the other.

Asked about how he felt about that, Anisimov said it was a "tough question" and preferred to see what happens when the Hawks hit the ice in training camp.

Later Wednesday, Antoine Vermette agreed to a two-year, $7.5 million contract with Arizona, the team the Hawks acquired him from at the trade deadline for this year's first-round draft pick.

Vermette didn't score a single goal in the regular season with the Hawks, but he came up huge in the playoffs with 4 goals, 3 of which were game-winners.

Now what?

As currently constructed, the Blackhawks have 18 players on their roster set to make just more than $70.6 million next season. The salary cap is set at $71.4 million, although teams can carry up to $78.5 million in salary until the regular season begins.

Here are some other key players in limbo:

• Forward Andrew Desjardins was said to be mulling multiple offers, including one by the Hawks.

• Marcus Kruger, a restricted free agent, is another player Stan Bowman would like to retain, and the Hawks' GM said Tuesday that talks were going well on that front.

• Bowman's ability -- or inability -- to shed salary by trading Bryan Bickell, Patrick Sharp and/or Kris Versteeg will play a big role in the Hawks being able to at least make a competitive offer for unrestricted free-agent defenseman Johnny Oduya.

• Follow Blackhawks news on Twitter @johndietzdh.

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