Anisimov excited to join Hawks; Detroit signs Richards
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."
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.
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.
Meet the newest BlackhawksJohn Dietz offers a glimpse of the five newest players to join the Blackhawks since Tuesday:
1. Artem Anisimov Position: Center; Height: 6-foot-4; Weight: 198; Age: 27
The skinny: Versatile Russian was drafted in the second round by the Rangers in 2008. Averaged 15.3 goals in three seasons with New York before moving on to Columbus. After lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign, he scored 22 goals in 2013-14. Solid two-way centerman who can play on power play and penalty kill. Figures to get shot at centering second line with Patrick Kane.
2. Marko DanoPosition: Center/wing; Height: 5-11; Weight: 183; Age: 20
The skinny: Taken 27th overall by Columbus in 2013 draft. Played final 27 games last season, piling up 14 points (4 goals) in last 15. Despite youth, could move into top-six forward role at some point. Watch for him to start as third-line winger with ability to play center when called upon.
He said it: "He drives the net hard and he plays a smart game. He's a very good player." -- Artem Anisimov
3. Jeremy MorinPosition: Right wing; Height: 6-1; Weight: 189; Age: 24
The skinny: Drafted by Atlanta in second round of 2009 draft. Hawks traded him to Columbus last season. Scored 2 goals in 28 games for Blue Jackets. Will fight for a roster spot in fall.
4. Corey TroppPosition: Right wing; Height: 6-0; Weight: 185; Age: 25
The skinny: Drafted by Buffalo in third round in 2007. Scored just 3 goals in 105 games with Blue Jackets last two seasons. Turns 26 later this month. Figures to have tough time making final roster.
5. Viktor TikhonovPosition: Center/right wing; Height: 6-2; Weight: 185; Age: 27
The skinny: He signed a 1-year, $1.04 million deal Wednesday. Spent last four seasons playing for SKA St. Petersburg in Russia. Played 61 games for Arizona Coyotes, which drafted him in 2008.
He said it: "He has good hockey sense and skates really well. Can both make plays and finish them himself. Has solid defensive acumen and the ability to play both wing and center." -- Ulf Andersson of Elite Hockey Prospects