Blackhawks trade Brandon Saad to Avalanche, acquire Nikita Zadorov in 4-player swap

Blackhawks trade Brandon Saad to Avalanche, acquire Nikita Zadorov in 4-player swap

Towering defenseman Nikita Zadorov was acquired by the Blackhawks on Saturday. | Getty

Weeks of trade rumors involving Saad culminated Saturday in a blockbuster trade to Colorado.

Brandon Saad has yet again been traded away from the Blackhawks.

The Hawks sent Saad and prospect defenseman Dennis Gilbert to the Avalanche on Saturday, acquiring Nikita Zadorov and Anton Lindholm in exchange, according to multiple reports.

It’s the third time in his career that Saad has been included in a blockbuster trade. The powerful forward was previously dealt to the Blue Jackets in June 2015 as part of a seven-player swap, with Artem Anisimov the biggest part of the Hawks’ return. Hawks general manager Stan Bowman then re-acquired Saad in June 2017 when he sent Artemi Panarin to the Jackets as part of a five-player swap.

Saad’s contract has one year left at a $6 million cap hit and makes him an unrestricted free agent in 2021, leading to speculation for a while that the now-rebuilding Hawks could look to move him again.

That very thing happened Saturday, although not for the package of prospects and draft picks that seemed like the most logical return.

Instead, the Hawks get Zadorov, a 25-year-old second-pairing-caliber NHL defenseman. He’s a restricted free agent and will command somewhere in the range of $3 million annually, so — while cheaper than Saad — he won’t be a bargain.

Zadorov started his career with the Sabres but had been with the Avs for the last five seasons, recording few points but a colossal number of hits with his 6-6, 235-pound frame. Analytically, he grades slightly above average in his own zone but very below average in the offensive zone.

The portion of the trade involving Gilbert, who will turn 24 later this month, and Lindholm, 25, is of far less consequence. They’re both depth defensemen who are best fitted for the AHL, other than as injury call-ups, although Gilbert may boast slightly more upside.

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