Saad just might end up regretting move more than Blackhawks
Almost a week has gone by since Stan Bowman set off the equivalent of a Fourth of July M-80 by trading Brandon Saad to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
For a while there, you could barely see through the smoke-filled vitriol of comments coming from irate fans all over Blackhawks Nation.
HOW COULD HE DO THAT? WHAT WAS HE THINKING?
Those are understandable reactions when a popular, up-and-coming star such as Saad is unmercifully shipped out of town for players most fans have never heard of before.
But Bowman's job is to assemble the best roster possible in an era that makes it tougher and tougher for teams to keep more than a few star players.
And let's be honest here: The Hawks have more than a "few" star players on their roster.
Bowman has been handcuffed by the fact that two of his highest-salaried players (Patrick Sharp and Bryan Bickell) had down seasons and aren't commanding what he deems acceptable in terms of trade value.
So after the draft ended and free agency was about to open up, Bowman had three options when it came to Saad: match any incoming offer sheet; let another team take Saad via that offer sheet and take that team's first-, second- and third-round picks next year; or make a trade.
Let's pause for a second to say that the Saad-to-Columbus deal could completely blow up in Bowman's face if:
• Saad becomes a perennial 30-goal scorer and …
• Russian center Artem Anisimov and winger Marko Dano don't live up to expectations.
If those things come to fruition, Bowman will have made the wrong move.
But to assume that will be the case as we sit here on July 5, 2015, is ludicrous, especially when Bowman has acquired, signed, developed and traded for so much good, young talent in his six-year run as general manager. His track record has been pretty darn good, and fans should do well to remember that he's a huge reason the Hawks lifted the Cup in 2013 and 2015.
Has Bowman been perfect? No. The $4 million Bickell contract is the biggest evidence of that.
In this case, though, this is a deal that -- on paper -- looks like a huge win for the Blackhawks. In acquiring, then extending for five years, a second-line-caliber center like Anisimov and also adding a 20-year-old winger like Dano, Bowman gave coach Joel Quenneville two solid players for less money than the Blue Jackets are paying Saad.
Matching an offer sheet of $6 million for Saad would have backed Bowman into a salary-cap corner from which he would have had a heck of a time escaping.
If fans want to place blame anywhere, it should be with Saad, who said he allowed his agent to handle all contract negotiations with the Hawks.
Had he been willing to accept a deal in the $5 million range, he'd probably still be a Blackhawk. He'd hear that earsplitting national anthem 41 times a year, be playing in front of a packed house every night and on a team that figures to compete for the Stanley Cup year after year after year.
Instead, he wanted an extra $1 million a year. And that's his right. So now he's playing in Columbus.
Then there's Andrew Desjardins, who signed a two-year deal with the Hawks on Friday for less than he could have made elsewhere. He stayed for the chance to win and because he loves the city and the players in that locker room.
And he played here for less than four months.
"Obviously the desire for players is to win. That's why they play," Bowman said two days after the Hawks eliminated the Lightning in the NHL Final.
"So there's always that point -- what is enough for them and that's something I can't answer. That's always an individual thing.
"But we know that all of our guys that are here, that have been here for a long time, they all sacrificed. And they all took less money than they could have, because they wanted to be part of something special.
"That's something that's been consistent going back many years for all of our guys, they probably all left money on the table. But I think if you go talk to them, they're pretty excited right now with the group they were part of as opposed to getting every last nickel."
Saad is indeed getting every last nickel.
And only he will know if he's happy with that decision as years go by.
But the guess here is -- whether it's later this year or a bit longer down the road -- he will realize what a big, big mistake he made.
• Follow John on Twitter @johndietzdh