Thank you Marty: A Tribute to Martin St. Louis

Thanks Marty: Former Lightning captain Martin St. Louis acknowledges the crowd after a video tribute in his return in what turned out to be his final season. St. Louis announced his retirement on July 2, 2015. We look back at the future Hall Of Famer's brilliant 16-year NHL career. AP Photo by Chris O'Meara/Getty Images

Thanks Marty: Former Lightning captain Martin St. Louis acknowledges the crowd after a video tribute in his return in what turned out to be his final season. St. Louis announced his retirement on July 2, 2015. We look back at the future Hall Of Famer’s brilliant 16-year NHL career.
AP Photo by Chris O’Meara/Getty Images

Earlier today, Martin St. Louis announced his retirement from hockey. A day after only a couple of teams showed interest in signing him, the 40-year old proud father of three decided to hang up the skates after 16 seasons. The Rangers made the announcement on Twitter.

St. Louis will be remembered for being a classic overachiever. Unlike many players who get drafted and have spots handed to them at the start, the pint sized 5-8, 176-pound St. Louis had to work extremely hard just to make the NHL. Following a four-year collegiate career at Vermont, he was signed by the Flames. He spent most of his Flames career in the minors until getting a chance in ’99-00 when he had three goals and 15 assists in 56 games. He totaled 20 points in 69 games before Calgary gave up on him.

On July 31, 2000 he was signed by the Lightning. This time, he made the most out of his second chance becoming the franchise’s all-time scoring leader with 953 points (365-588-953) in 972 games. St. Louis also leads the franchise in assists (588), shorthanded goals (28), game-winners (64) and overtime winners (10).

He’ll always be remembered for winning the Hart in the Lightning’s championship season of ’03-04. That year, St. Louis won the Art Ross Trophy with 38 goals, 56 assists and 94 points with a plus-35 rating. He also won the Lester B. Pearson. Topping it off was a brilliant postseason in which he tallied nine goals and 15 assists for 24 points in 23 games to help lead the Lightning to a Stanley Cup. His most memorable moment came in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final against Calgary. With his team facing elimination, he scored at 33 seconds of the second overtime to force a deciding Game 7 which the Bolts would win 2-1. The highlight reel goal can be seen above. A determined St. Louis going to the net and finding a rebound past Miikka Kiprusoff. I was at my old job SportsTicker in Jersey City for that.

From 2000-14, St. Louis had a wonderful Lightning career. His best statistical season came in ’06-07 when he registered a career best 43 goals and 102 points. But the Lightning were eliminated in the first round even with St. Louis notching eight points (3-5-8). In a 14-year career with the Bolts, he went over the 90-point mark four times including back-to-back with 94 in ’09-10 and 99 in ’10-11.

Most astonishing is that despite being the smallest player on the ice, he didn’t miss many games. Between ’06-07 and ’10-11, St. Louis played all 82 each season while producing 458 points (158-300-458) in 410 games averaging 1.12 points-per-game. At the end of that run, he had 10 goals and 10 helpers for 20 points in 18 postseason games when the Bolts made it all the way to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final before losing to the eventual Cup champion Bruins. In the shortened season of ’12-13, St. Louis won his second Art Ross leading the league in scoring with 60 points (17-43-60). He played in all 48 but they missed the playoffs for a second straight year.

It was during ’13-14 when he was having another big season leading the Bolts in scoring when he requested a trade to the Rangers. He came under fire with many in the media criticizing him due to a dispute with Tampa GM Steve Yzerman over not being selected to Canada for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. He was left off the roster until Yzerman put him on as a replacement. The bitter divorce resulted in the first ever captain for captain trade with St. Louis going to the Rangers for Ryan Callahan. The deal also involved picks with the Rangers coughing up two first rounders while the Lightning sent back a second round pick. The Bolts also received a 2015 seventh round pick completing the trade.

Retirement was always a possibility for St. Louis, who wanted to be closer to his Greenwich, Connecticut home and family. However, he’ll always be fondly remembered in New York City for the mental fortitude he showed after Mom France suddenly passed away at 63 during last year’s playoffs. After the Rangers lost in ugly fashion at home to the Penguins falling behind three games to one in the second round, it would’ve been easy for St. Louis to skip Game 5 and be with his family back in Laval, Quebec. Instead, he wanted to play because that’s what his Mom would’ve wanted.

What became apparent is the team rallied around St. Louis by winning Game 5 easily 5-1 to send the series back to MSG for Mother’s Day. Sunday, May 11, 2014 will be forever remembered by Garden Faithful. Along with my Dad, Justin and his buddy Mike, we were fortunate enough to be in the building for Game 6. Fittingly, St. Louis scored early to give the Rangers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. When he scored that goal, the place went bananas. Between his reaction and the Garden, there was no way they were losing. A Carl Hagelin goal and Derick Brassard tally along with 37 big saves from Henrik Lundqvist guaranteed a Game 7. They would go on to complete their first ever 3-1 comeback by edging the Pens 2-1. Appropriately, St. Louis had a hand in Brad Richards’ power play series clincher setting it up. They teamed up to win the Cup in Tampa and weren’t done after an exciting second round comeback.

After getting the jump on the Canadiens by taking the first two games convincingly at Bell Centre, the Rangers got a better challenge from the Habs who were minus number one goalie Carey Price. Following Alex Galchenyuk’s OT winner in Game 3, P.K. Subban’s power play goal two minutes into the third period forced another overtime between the Original Six rivals. With the Eastern Conference Final hanging in the balance, St. Louis provided this special moment below.

The smallest man with the biggest heart didn’t miss going top shelf on Dustin Tokarski sending pumped up teammates off the bench and MSG into bedlam. That clutch goal from Marty put the Blueshirts within one game of a trip to the Stanley Cup Final. Let’s be honest. If he doesn’t score there and they don’t win, I doubt they make it. The Habs would’ve had all the momentum. Good thing it didn’t come down to that because we all know how Montreal blitzed Lundqvist in Game 5. But in Game 6, all it took was a goal from Dominic Moore late in the second to win 1-0 behind 18 saves from Lundqvist in about as perfectly played a home game. Still the most exciting moment I’ve experienced as a fan.

Of course, it didn’t have a happy ending like most Hollywood scripts. The Kings were too powerful prevailing in a long five-game series that felt more like seven by the time Alec Martinez scored in double overtime. The Rangers lost all three games in sudden death at Staples Center blowing leads in each. It still burns.

St. Louis’ final season was up and down but he still pumped in 21 goals with 31 assists totaling 52 points in 74 contests. The 21 markers tied him with Chris Kreider for second behind Rick Nash (42). St. Louis’ 52 points ranked fourth in team scoring. Even though he struggled badly in the postseason scoring his only goal against his former team in Game 4 of the Conference Final, the Rangers must replace his production. They’ll look to J.T. Miller and Kevin Hayes and bank on Kreider to continue his development.

For his 16-year NHL career, St. Louis finishes with 391 goals and 642 assists totaling 1,033 points in 1,134 games. In 107 playoff games, he had a respectable 42 goals and 48 helpers for 90 points winning one Cup and leading two different teams to the Stanley Cup Final. Four different times, he reached the Conference Finals. St. Louis is a two-time Art Ross winner with a Hart, Pearson and three Lady Byngs. He should be a first ballot Hall Of Famer.

Even if it didn’t end the way he would’ve liked, this was the right decision. It was hard watching him struggle this past Spring. He was missing shots he used to bury in his sleep and guilty of several turnovers that forced coach Alain Vigneault to sit him for a crucial stretch against the Capitals in Game 7 of the second round. It definitely hurt his pride. St. Louis was a hard competitor who wanted to be out for each shift. It couldn’t have felt good getting replaced by Miller on the second line.

In reflecting back about his brilliant career, I’m amazed at how tough St. Louis was. He was a gamer who didn’t miss many games and took a lot of punishment in the old NHL to win a scoring title, MVP and Cup in the final season before the lockout. The odds were stacked against him. Not every small player can succeed in this league. Especially back then when the rules were more lax allowing clutching and grabbing. St. Louis was Theoren Fleury without the snarl. He never quit on plays which is why he got so much out of his career.

Rather than critiquing now retired former GM Glen Sather for the St. Louis trade, I’m thankful because he helped teach our players how to prepare and win. Anyone who thinks otherwise needs to reevaluate it. There is no trip to the Stanley Cup Final last year without Marty. Even if Slats rolled the dice for the short-term, it was a success with the team going deep twice. No one could’ve predicted what happened in Game 7. Sometimes, those things just happen.

Congratulations to Martin St. Louis on a wonderful career. A lock for the Hockey Hall Of Fame! Thank you No. 26.

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Uneventful Canada Day For Rangers

While other teams made a splash, it was anything but for the Rangers. Their Canada Day was uneventful. The highlight was the official announcement from Glen Sather that he was moving upstairs to Team President while handing over the reigns to new general manager Jim Gorton. The long-time assistant GM finally takes over after the club rejected interview requests from the Bruins and Leafs.

With little cap space due to having to re-sign Derek Stepan, J.T. Miller, Jesper Fast and Emerson Etem, the Rangers made a couple of minor signings on Day 1 of the free agent frenzy. After losing dependable extra defenseman Matt Hunwick to Toronto (2 years $2.4 million), they quickly signed replacement Raphael Diaz for one year, $700,000. The 29-year old from Switzerland played 11 games with the Blueshirts posting a goal and helper in 2013-14. He spent the past season with the Flames going 2-2-4 in 56 games and getting into three postseason contests. At least he’s familiar with the system. But it’s a downgrade from Hunwick.

While a few Blueshirt fans tried to put a spin on adding depth forward Viktor Stalberg for a year at $1.1 million, it’s a fringe move for the 29-year old who spent part of the season in Nashville AHL affiliate Milwaukee where he had 11 goals and 17 points. He only took part in 25 games with the Predators tallying two goals and eight assists. A far cry from the player he once was with the Blackhawks. Imagine a player with size who goes 6-3, 210 pounds and doesn’t use it. That best describes Stalberg. Another finesse forward.

In other moves that will shore up Hartford, the Rangers signed Jayson Megna, Matt Lindblad and Brian Gibbons.

The one intriguing addition involved trading a 2017 fifth round pick to Nashville for Swedish goalie prospect Magnus Hellberg. The 24-year old netminder was drafted by the Preds in the second round of 2011 number 38 overall. He spent part of one season with Frolunda. Hellberg’s spent a majority of time with Milwaukee going 15-10-6 with a 2.33 goals-against-average, .913 save percentage and three shutouts in 2014-15.

With Mackenzie Skapski recovering from hip surgery, it makes sense. Hellberg is three years older and new Rangers backup Antti Raanta is only signed for one year. I like it.

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July 1 FA Frenzy: Pens big winners landing Kessel

Phil Kessel

On Day One of the free agent frenzy, the Pens were big winners landing Phil Kessel. It was indeed a Happy Canada Day for Pittsburgh general manager Jim Rutherford who acquired the scoring forward from the Maple Leafs. Here are the details below.

Pens get F Phil Kessel F Tyler Biggs D Tim Erixon 2nd Round Pick

Leafs receive C Nick Spaling F Kasperi Kapanen D Scott Harrington 1st and 3rd Rd Picks

The condition of the first round pick depends on if the Pens make the postseason. The first is lottery protected. If they somehow missed, it would instead be a 2017 first. That also would mean the Leafs throw back a 2017 second instead of a 2016.

Even in a loaded Metropolitan Division, it’s hard to see the Pens missing the playoffs. Now that they’ve added a proven finisher in Kessel for Sidney Crosby and/or Evgeni Malkin, they become scary. Finally, the 27-year old American has a top center to play with which could mean 40+ goals. He’s scored 30-or-more five times totaling 247 for his nine-year career with the Bruins and Leafs. Unlike Toronto, he won’t have to be the guy. A motivated Kessel could do wonders for the Pens.

As part of the trade, the Leafs are picking up $1.2 million of Kessel’s remaining salary. He’s entering the second year of an eight-year deal that pays him an average of $8 million per season. He’ll earn $10 million in 2015-16. The Pens are still paying a huge chunk for a player who came under fire in Toronto after a lackluster season that saw his production drop to 25 goals and 61 points with a minus-34 rating. Pittsburgh has $38 million committed to Crosby, Malkin, Kessel, Kris Letang and Marc-Andre Fleury through 2020. It should be interesting to see how they manage the rest of the cap.

Even though Toronto was criticized for not prying Olli Maatta or Derrick Pouliot, they still managed to get a good return for a player they couldn’t wait to get rid of. Kapanen is a Pens 2014 first round pick who came over from Finland joining Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at the end of the AHL season. After netting a goal and helper in four games, he went 3-2-5 in the playoffs.

Harrington was a 2011 Pens second round pick who played in 10 games this past season. The former London Knight is a defensive defenseman who tallied two goals and 10 assists with a plus-19 rating for the Baby Pens. He’s 22 and should be ready to compete for a spot on the Leafs’ blueline. They’re still shopping captain Dion Phaneuf and center Tyler Bozak.

Spaling is the only roster player the Pens subtracted. The 26-year old forward came over from the Predators with Patric Hornqvist for James Neal. A solid checker, he registered nine goals and 18 assists while going 1-1-2 in the playoffs for Pittsburgh. He has one year left on a contract that pays him $2.2 million.

Biggs and Erixon also went back to the Pens. Neither looks like more than fringe players who’ll join Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Sadder for Erixon who once was a first round pick of Calgary in 2009. It wasn’t long ago that the Rangers traded Roman Horak for him as part of a bigger deal that netted the Flames Markus Granlund. Eventually, Erixon was part of a package for Rick Nash. He played parts of three seasons in Columbus before being dealt to Chicago for Jeremy Morin. Then lasted eight games before the Leafs claimed him off waivers. Now, he’ll join his fourth organization in less than a year.

In assessing the Pens forwards, it has the potential to be lethal with a projected top six of Crosby, Malkin, Kessel, Hornqvist, Pascal Dupuis and David Perron. Brandon Sutter and Chris Kunitz are in the top nine with restricted free agent Beau Bennett. Pittsburgh only has six million left unless they dump Kunitz or Rob Scuderi. They re-signed defenseman Ian Cole to a three-year deal worth an average of $2.1 million. They’re looking for a backup goalie with Thomas Greiss landing with the Islanders.

If there is a weakness, the Pens are very top heavy. Their depth could be a issue. However, adding Kessel to Crosby and Malkin will make them dangerous. More on the frenzy later.

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Sather steps down, Gorton new Rangers GM

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On what’s been a hectic Canada Day on July 1 with the free agent frenzy, the Rangers have called a 4 PM press conference. Glen Sather will step down as general manager moving upstairs as Team President and Jeff Gorton will take over as the new GM.

Give credit where it’s due to New York Post’s Larry Brooks who reported the story following the Rangers’ elimination. A brief email exchange proved correct with Sather uncertain of returning. After 15 years, he’s finally done. The 71-year old Hall Of Famer who was the architect behind five Oilers Stanley Cups took over as Rangers President and GM in the summer of 2000. After some big swings and misses on Eric Lindros, Bobby Holik, Pavel Bure and Alexei Kovalev, he traded Anson Carter for Jaromir Jagr in January 2004.

Following the lockout, Sather rebuilt the organization through the draft while signing Michael Nylander, Martin Straka, Martin Rucinsky, Marek Malik and Michal Rozsival. They would team up with Jagr and former 2000 seventh round pick Henrik Lundqvist to bring the Rangers back to the playoffs for the first time since 1997. Veteran Kevin Weekes along with Petr Prucha, Steve Rucchin were key components. Slats also added Petr Sykora and Sandis Ozolinsh at the deadline. While Sykora fit in, Ozolinsh struggled. After a feel good regular season, they were swept by the Devils. Brendan Shanahan joined up the following year along with protagonist Sean Avery with the team coming very close to beating the Sabres.

That was the start of some of the best hockey the franchise has seen. Over the past decade, the Blueshirts have qualified for the postseason nine out of 10 times and made at least the Conference Finals in three of the last four years. Lundqvist has been the backbone becoming the all-time franchise leader in wins (339) and shutouts (55). The 33-year old Swede has a few years left to win a Cup.

Sather’s best move was dumping Scott Gomez to the Canadiens in a deal that landed them Ryan McDonagh. The anchor of a blueline featuring Marc Staal and Dan Girardi, he’s the 26-year old captain who led them to their first Stanley Cup appearance since 1994 last year. Already a shutdown defenseman, he’ll continue to improve.

While it’s easy to critique Slats for throwing away first round picks in deals for Rick Nash, Keith Yandle and now departed Martin St. Louis, it was all to try to win now. They were close in 2014 losing to the Kings and were a period away from a second straight Stanley Cup Final against the Lightning. The question is will the sacrifice of picks and top prospect Anthony Duclair come back to bite the franchise in the long-term. That’s now Gorton’s job which will be challenging with the Pens improving mightily after acquiring Phil Kessel and the Blue Jackets getting Brandon Saad.

Sather was able to rebuild the team thanks to good drafting by getting former core players Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov. They were integral parts of the 2011-12 team coached by John Tortorella that finished with the East’s best record and reached the Conference Final. Eventually, Slats included Dubinsky and Anisimov with Tim Erixon and a first round pick (Kerby Rychel) for Nash, Steven Delisle and a third round pick (Pavel Buchnevich). If Buchnevich comes over next year, that deal could look even better. Though the Jackets used Anisimov as the main piece to pry Saad away from the Blackhawks.

Slats is also responsible for Mats Zuccarello signing. There’s no doubt they missed him the last two rounds. The gritty Zuccarello has become a crucial player who mixes skill with edge making him irreplaceable. He re-signed before the deadline for a now bargain average of $4.5 million over the next four years. His full recovery from a brain contusion is essential to the club’s future. That he can still even play is a miracle.

Sather also gets credit for acquiring Derick Brassard from the Blue Jackets for Marian Gaborik who ironically wound up burning the Rangers as a King last June. Brassard has been a godsend becoming a top two playmaking center who has performed well in the postseason with a team best 40 points (17-23-40) over the last three years. He also is signed for another four years at a cap friendly $5 million average. Derek Stepan is the top center who was selected 51st overall in 2008. He’s become a team leader totaling 27 points (10-17-27) over the last two postseasons. Only 25, the former Wisconsin Badger must be re-signed and should get around $6 million per season.

Former first round picks Chris Kreider and J.T. Miller are big parts of the future. Kreider continues to develop into one of the best power forwards. The 24-year old is coming off a career best season with 21 goals, 25 assists, 46 points and 88 penalty minutes. He’s a proven playoff performer with 12 of his 18 goals coming the past two years. Miller went from the AHL to a top nine forward Alain Vigneault trusted. After tallying 10 goals and 13 assists during the season, he added a goal and seven helpers in the playoffs. The versatile forward who can both play center and wing plays with edge and is a solid two-way player with good upside.

The Rangers are also expecting Kevin Hayes to improve after a great rookie year that saw him total 45 points (17-28-45) in 79 contests after being signed last summer. He struggled somewhat in the playoffs going 2-5-7 but will learn from the experience. Jesper Fast emerged during the postseason registering three goals and three assists while playing with Stepan and Kreider. He’s more of a defensive forward who can play third line and kill penalties replacing Carl Hagelin who was dealt with a second (Julius Nattinen) and sixth round pick (Garrett Metcalf) to the Ducks for Emerson Etem and a first round pick (Ryan Gropp).

In a ultra competitive division, Gorton’s work is cut out. He doesn’t have a lot of cap room due to Sather overspending to keep Girardi and Staal who both have no-movement clauses. The team’s first moves today have been addressing seventh defenseman by replacing Matt Hunwick who signed with the Leafs by bringing back Raphael Diaz and adding depth forward Viktor Stalberg. They really can’t do much else with Stepan, Miller and Fast key restricted’s along with Etem.

With Sather moving upstairs, it officially is a new era. Hopefully, Gorton will be able to deliver a championship.

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Devils sign John Moore to 3 year, $5 million deal

Defenseman John Moore signs with the Devils as a FA, after playing with the Blue Jackets, Rangers and Coyotes since 2010-11

So far, Day One of Free Agent Frenzy 2015 has been an expectedly quiet one for the Devils.  Especially after reported target Michael Frolik signed a five-year deal with Calgary early in the afternoon.  New Jersey’s only activity to this point has been a minor deal, signing ex-Ranger defenseman John Moore to a 3-year deal at $1.67 million per season.  Moore seemed to be to be a nice role player for the Rangers (I’m sure Derek will have more to say on him later) and by all accounts is a good skater and has some snarl to him.  On the minus side he seems to have issues with discipline and smarts, which is perhaps why the former first-rounder is on his fourth team at age 24, and didn’t get tendered by the lowly Coyotes this summer.

Still, it seems like a good, low-risk gamble for a team such as the Devils to take.  Moore is young enough to have upside and take his play to another level, and the money and term aren’t prohibitive in case Moore turns into Andrei Zyuzin (i.e. a talented project that doesn’t work out).  Of course he fits in with the ‘fast, attacking, supportive’ vision of GM Ray Shero and coach John Hynes and doesn’t block the Devils’ prospect defensemen from eventually making an impact if they wind up outplaying Moore.  Author’s note: While I agree in principle with the notion of fast, attacking and supportive I cringe at just how much of a motto it’s become, as if it’s part of a PR/sales pitch as much as it is a vision for a hockey team <end mini-rant>.

Ironically, though Moore is just 24 he becomes the second oldest member of the current defensive core.  Although Moore supposedly has a good shot and tools to have potential offensively he has just nine goals and thirty-one assists in 230 NHL games.

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Islanders re-sign Anders Lee

Rookie Anders Lee celebrates his 23rd goal with Johnny Boychuk during the first period for the Islanders. AP Photo by Kathy Kmonicek/Getty Images

Rookie Anders Lee celebrates his 23rd goal with Johnny Boychuk during the first period for the Islanders.
AP Photo by Kathy Kmonicek/Getty Images

In a good move to start the offseason, the Islanders re-signed forward Anders Lee to a four-year deal worth $3.75 million-per-season. A former 2009 sixth round pick who turns 25 on July 3, Lee had a good rookie year tallying 25 goals with 16 helpers totaling 41 points in 76 games. He only registered an assist in the Isles’ first round loss to the Capitals and was a healthy scratch twice.

Still, Lee was a good player for Islanders coach Jack Capuano with his 25 markers ranking second on the team behind captain John Tavares (38). He’s set to earn $2 million in 2015-16 with payouts of $3.5 million, $4.5 million and $5 million the following three seasons. Obviously, it’s a risky contract because they’re expecting Lee to be a consistent scorer.

With Kyle Okposo a year away from unrestricted free agency, GM Garth Snow might already be planning the club’s future. Okposo is set to make $4.5 million in the final year of his deal and could draw significant interest in 2016. Snow must also bump up Group II Brock Nelson who attained a career best 20 goals and 42 points in his second season.

The Islanders have almost $13 million in cap space currently at $59.35 million. They could look to add a depth defenseman on July 1 with potential candidates Francois Beauchemin, Cody Franson, Johnny Oduya and Jan Hejda. Getting a proven playoff performer like Justin Williams also wouldn’t be a bad idea.

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July 1 Frenzy: Blue Jackets acquire Saad from Blackhawks

In a cap cutting move, the Blackhawks traded Brandon Saad to the Blue Jackets. Getty Images

In a cap cutting move, the Blackhawks traded Brandon Saad to the Blue Jackets.
Getty Images

With the July 1 frenzy on deck, the Blue Jackets and Blackhawks made big news earlier today. Columbus acquired forward Brandon Saad from Chicago in exchange for Artem Anisimov and Marko Dano as part of a seven player blockbuster deal. The full trade has Saad going to the Jackets with defenseman Michael Paliotta and forward Alex Broadhurst for Anisimov, Dano, Corey Tropp and the Hawks reacquiring Jeremy Morin.

Elliott Friedman broke the trade on Twitter this afternoon. Chris Johnston had more details on the key players the Hawks were getting back.

When the news broke, the hockey internet was in shock. I don’t think anyone anticipated the Hawks having to part with a key piece of the future. A 2011 second round pick, the 22-year old Saad has been part of two Hawks’ Stanley Cups including the franchise’s second in three years. After posting career bests in goals (23), assists (29), points (52) and games played (82), he posted eight goals and three assists in the postseason. He was seeking a huge raise that would’ve killed the Hawks’ salary cap.

According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, Saad was asking for an average of $6.5 million over six years. A crazy amount for a player who just completed his rookie contract. This is what you get in today’s salary cap where young players coming off rookie deals can demand the moon and force GM’s hands. We saw it with Dougie Hamilton this past weekend which explains why Don Sweeney sent him to the Flames for a first and two seconds. Hamilton asked for more than he received from Calgary eventually agreeing to a six-year deal worth $34.5 million ($4.75 million average).

Chicago general manager Stan Bowman decided that his team was facing a offer sheet that they couldn’t match and wound up getting two roster players back in Anisimov and Dano who fit into their immediate future. More so Anisimov who has a year left on a contract that pays him $4 million. He and the club are working towards an extension. The former Ranger had a tough season missing 30 games due to injuries while posting just seven goals and 20 assists. The 27-year old center fills a void with the Hawks moving on from Brad Richards. They now have a projected top three of Jonathan Toews, Anisimov and Teuvo Teravainen in the middle with Andrew Shaw one of the league’s best checking centers.

Dano is only 20 and tallied eight goals and 13 helpers in 35 games as a rookie for Columbus while splitting time in AHL affiliate Springfield with 11-8-19 in 39 games. A 2013 first round pick, he is highly thought of. So, the Hawks did well getting a prospect with potential.

The Jackets are still hoping to get Saad signed before the clock strikes 12 PM on July 1. If they don’t, he can receive offer sheets. Something the Hawks feared which explains why they moved him. If I’m Glen Sather, I have to be thinking about a extension for Chris Kreider. They can’t do it now with Derek Stepan a Group II who’ll get about $6 million. However, with Kreider having a year left at $2.6 million that’ll be the next order of business this Fall or Winter. Kreider has put up similar numbers to Saad posting 21 goals and 25 assists in 80 games this past season while adding seven goals and two helpers in the postseason. The 24-year old power forward is entering a critical year.

In other happenings Tuesday, the Ducks acquired defenseman Kevin Bieksa from the Canucks for a 2016 second round pick. A good return for the declining 34-year old veteran who’ll replace unrestricted blueliner Francois Beauchemin. The 35-year old would be a solid addition for any team looking to bolster their back end.

The Sharks signed new goalie Martin Jones to a three-year deal worth $9 million. … The Jets re-signed former Sabres forward Drew Stafford to a multi-year contract worth $8.7 million. He helped Winnipeg make the postseason after coming over from Buffalo in the Evander Kane blockbuster that also featured Tyler Myers to Winnipeg and Zach Bogosian to the Sabres.

… The Oilers dealt checking center Boyd Gordon to the Coyotes for forward Lauri Korpikoski. An equal swap of two checking forwards who are solid secondary players.

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