COLUMBUS -- The Columbus Blue Jackets have been stockpiling draft choices and prospects for years now to allow them to pull off a trade like they did Tuesday, when they sent four players and a future pick to the Chicago Blackhawks for left wing Brandon Saad.
Saad can become a restricted free agent at noon ET on Wednesday, but Kekalainen said he is confident the 22-year-old forward will sign a long-term contract with Columbus, possibly even Tuesday night. The Blue Jackets have scheduled a teleconference with Saad for Wednesday morning.
Saad's eight goals were third on the Blackhawks in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs. In 67 NHL playoff games, Saad has 34 points, including 15 goals.
"He's a winner," Kekalainen said. "We want winners here, and he's a proven winner. He's won two Stanley Cups. He's 22 years old and been a big part of it. He's got all the right tools. He's got size (6-foot-1, 204 pounds) and strength.
"He's exactly what we were looking for. He's going to be a big piece of our team for many, many years to come."