The Columbus Blue Jackets have acquired dynamic scoring winger Artemi Panarin in part of a larger blockbuster trade with the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Brandon Saad.
Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen made reference to acquiring a sniper in the offseason, and apparently he wasn't kidding.
There's a lot to unpack here, so let's start with this: Artemi Panarin is a genuine sniper. There aren't many of them in the league, and all due respect to Cam Atkinson, the Blue Jackets now have one.
The 25-year-old Russian has only played in two seasons in the NHL, but he's already made quite a name for himself as Patrick Kane's right-hand man (pun intended), as he has scored 30-plus goals and 40-plus assists in both years. He has 61 goals and 90 assists for 151 points and won the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie in 2015-16.
"Artemi Panarin was the best rookie in the NHL two years ago, a second team All-Star this past season and is one of the most dynamic offensive players in the NHL," GM Jarmo Kekalainen said in a statement. "There is a cost to adding a player like Artemi, as well as a very good NHL prospect in Tyler Motte, but we believe this is a very good move for our team. We wish Brandon and Anton well and thank them for their contributions to our organization."
He will immediately slot in on the top line and power-play unit. The natural fit here is for him to play with Alex Wennberg, an exceptionally talented set-up man who should benefit from playing with such a gifted scorer.
Wonder if acquisition of Panarin is, in any way, a sweetener for Ilya Kovalchuk, who's been discussed by #CBJ. The two were teammates in KHL— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) June 23, 2017
The key piece going the other way in the deal is Brandon Saad, who was initially sent to Columbus from Chicago. Saad is a talented player and will be missed in Columbus. As a two-time Stanley Cup champion, he was heavily leaned on in Columbus to be provide leadership to a young, playoff-starved team.
In two seasons in Columbus, the 24-year-old Saad had a 55-51-106 line and was a 2016 NHL All-Star.
The deal also sends Blue Jackets goaltender Anton Forsberg to Chicago, while the Jackets acquire forward Tyler Motte, who split last year between the Blackhawks and AHL Rockford in his first pro campaign.
Forsberg played in 10 games with the Blue Jackets over the past three seasons, going 1-8-0 with a 4.02 goals-against average and .879 save percentage, though he had a much better 2.22 GAA in his time at the AHL level.
Motte had four goals and seven points in 33 games with the Blackhawks last year as a rookie and added a 10-6-16 line in 43 outings with Rockford. He can play both center and wing and was a teammate of the Blue Jackets' Zach Werenski for two years at the University of Michigan.
The trade also includes a sixth-round pick in this year's draft coming to Columbus for the Jackets' fifth-rounder next year.
Keep it here at 1st Ohio Battery for much more on this trade.