Insider Only Daily 5: Brandon Saad, lack of forward assets, targeting bottom-6 players who can create their own shot & more

saas TIOPS DAILY FIVE

*Rumblings, Musings, Opinions*

1. Brandon Saad went on the trade market Sunday after contract talks stalled and boom was traded this afternoon in a stunner to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
In the deal Chicago sent Saad, Alex Broadhurst and defenseman Michael Paliotta to the Blue Jackets, with the Blackhawks receiving forwards Artem Anisimov, Marko Dano, Jeremy Morin, Corey Tropp, and a fourth round draft pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.
The Penguins made what they felt was an aggressive pitch for Saad, at least that’s what they want the media to put out there, but the Penguins didn’t have the forwards to matchup in a trade for Saad, per team sources.
A Penguins source says the vibe in the organization is more disappointment than stunned. Despite what may be out there in the media, the Blackhawks never gave Penguins the impression that a deal (with Pittsburgh) was going to happen, a source close to the situation says, and it was clear things accelerated quickly with the Blue Jackets in the last 24 hours as the Blackhawks are now close to a five year extension with Anisimov, an indication that Columbus granted Anisimov’s agent permission to discuss an extension with the Blackhawks prior to the trade becoming official.
It’s too bad for Jim Rutherford. With David Morehouse’s obsession to acquire a prominent local player, Rutherford probably could have received an ownership stake if he had pulled this off.

2. At first glance, the deal didn’t seem to be enough from the Blackhawks end in trading a budding star in Saad but if you examine more closely what the Blackhawks received, it’s a solid return and easy to see why the Penguins didn’t get Saad with the Blackhawks focused on forwards.
In Anisimov, the Blackhawks solve their No. 2 center issues which has been a revolving door the last couple seasons. A strong two-way player, he’ll be a good compliment to Jonathan Toews.
Comparing Anisimov with Brandon Sutter,  which I’m sure some are, I had one scout express doubt that the Hawks would have had interest in Sutter, citing they look for different type of players.
Marko Dano, though, is the player Penguin officials feel that tipped the scale in Columbus favor or over anyone else. The Penguins just don’t have that type of young NHL ready forward.
The Penguins had an obsession years ago that drafting puck moving defenseman would set the stage to be able to acquire long-term top-6 wingers and believed that was a faster route than developing high upside wingers. It’s backfired from the standpoint that the league evolved where teams more often than not are now looking to move high end wingers for centers.
What’s interesting now is the Penguins same scouts who were obsessed with puck moving defenseman during the Shero era, are all still here, the difference is the General Manager is now the one dictating the direction the Penguins are going to select, compared to Shero who would just sit back and let his scouts run the show.
I’ve been very hard on Rutherford, but mostly at the NHL level for a lack of direction/plan and the same win-at-all cost mentality that Shero had, which is an obvious major issue. However, where Rutherford’s been a strong suit is now drafting forwards but also targeting different type of forwards than the Penguins did under Shero.
There’s certainly questions about these players, Kapanen, Sprong, but Rutherford’s targeting high end skill early. In the past the Penguins were fixated on low upside college players, especially in Rounds 2-3.
If your looking for some laughs tonight, here’s one —

Penguin fans probably would have went crazy if Shero had acquired Saad.

3. The Blue Jackets already a team on the rise in the Metropolitan Division that was ravished by injuries last season, are going to be a nightmare to defend down low in the offensive zone and one of the deepest teams 1-9 at forward in the Eastern Conference. With Saad, Johansen, Hartnell, Foligno, Dubinsky, Jenner, even David Clarkson, that’s going to be a team extremely difficult to defend in around the crease, and a team built to wear you down in a seven game series.
We might be seeing a changing of the guard in the division this season with the Blue Jackets, Islanders on the rise.
With the Capitals primed to take another step forward, especially if they can get another goal scoring winger added to the mix, wouldn’t be a shock to see the Penguins and Rangers as the 4th/5th best teams in the division.

4. Starting to get it? The Penguins have identified a major issue with last years club and previous years being a lack of players in their bottom-6 that can create their own shot. It has the Penguins targeting more skilled bottom-6 players than grit.


5. The Penguins were trying to work on something big today, Saad trade obviously, but was hearing this afternoon they were aggressively trying to swing more than one trade to create roster flexibility/space to give them better opportunity to keep Paul Martin. If the Penguins find a way to get done, it will prove to be terrible value management after failing to lockup a top-4 defenseman in his 20’s last year in Matt Niskanen.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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