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Saad 'a little shocked' by trade to Blue Jackets

by Craig Merz /

COLUMBUS -- Brandon Saad, the newest Columbus Blue Jackets left wing, is still getting used to no longer being a member of the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.

"I was a little shocked," Saad said Wednesday after being traded Tuesday. "It was my first time going through the process. At the same time it's a business and you have to expect it. After that, I'm definitely excited to come to a good, young team in Columbus.

"Things are going to happen, and most guys don't play their entire career in the same place."

But Saad, 22, wasn't expecting to move so soon after winning the Stanley Cup twice in three seasons with the Blackhawks. He had eight goals and 11 points in 23 games during the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"We want winners here," Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said. "He has all the right tools. He's got size, he's got strength. He plays the game hard."

That winning attitude and extensive postseason experience (67 playoff games) contrasts with the Blue Jackets' lack of success. Saad's two championships match the number of postseason wins for Columbus in its history.

"Yeah, it's definitely going to be a change," Saad said. "At the same time, as I've watched Columbus in the past, they've had some tight playoff series where they've played well and had some good seasons. I'm looking forward to going to there and helping that team."

The Blue Jackets must sign the restricted free agent.

"I'm going to wait to hear from my agent on getting a deal done with the Blue Jackets," Saad said.

Assuming Saad signs with Columbus, Kekalainen envisions him possibility pairing with all-star center Ryan Johansen.

"[Saad] is exactly what we were looking for," Kekalainen said. "He's going to be a big piece of our team for many, many years to come."

To get Saad, the Blue Jackets traded reliable center Artem Anisimov, talented wing Marko Dano, fourth-line players Corey Tropp and Jeremy Morin, and a fourth-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.

Columbus also acquired defenseman Michael Paliotta and center Alex Broadhurst. Though Broadhurst will likely start the season in the American Hockey League with the Lake Erie Monsters, Paliotta is considered closer to the NHL.

"He's a guy who's going to go into that group and battle for a spot on defense," Kekalainen said. "He's a guy we talked about with Chicago before. We had interest in him."

But the chance to get Saad was too good to pass up. Columbus had the salary-cap space. Chicago didn't. Now Saad, a Pittsburgh native, will play the Pittsburgh Penguins four times this season in the Metropolitan Division, twice as often as he did with the Blackhawks.

"I didn't know that," he said. "It's nice to play in my hometown, but at the same time I'm with the Blue Jackets now."

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