David Savard's long, productive career in Columbus has reached an end.
The 30-year-old veteran defenseman is on the move, as the Blue Jackets traded him to the Tampa Bay Lightning–sort of–on Saturday in a pre-deadline blockbuster.
In return, the Blue Jackets are getting Tampa Bay's first-round pick (likely a lower first, if the Lightning make another run) in 2021, and a third-round pick in 2022. This is a three-way deal involving the Detroit Red Wings, who sent defenseman Brian Lashoff to Columbus before the Blue Jackets sent Lashoff to the Lightning. Got all that?
Also, Columbus and Detroit are splitting the remainder of Savard's salary.
The Detroit #RedWings today acquired defenseman David Savard from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for defenseman Brian Lashoff and subsequently traded Savard to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for a fourth-round pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. pic.twitter.com/jLlUqA7xrm— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) April 10, 2021
Savard will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and it doesn't appear as though he's in the team's plans as GM Jarmo Kekalainen looks to remake his roster–one that woefully underperformed in 2020-21.
Savard quickly became the hot commodity among available blueliners this trade season. Nashville's Mattias Ekholm, long-thought to be the top target, was pulled off the market once the Predators made their spring surge into a playoff spot in the Central Division. That turned teams' attention to Savard, a no-maintenance player who does the little things required to win at the critical time of the season.
The Blue Jackets, including the team, players, organization and fans, will miss him.
Perhaps no player embodies the Blue Jackets' rise from mediocrity quite like Savard. Like the team itself, Savard had to remake his game to stick at the NHL level. Drafted in the fourth round from the Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL) in 2009, Savard was a high-risk, exciting offensive defenseman who put up points and made plays all over the ice. His foot speed was one factor in preventing that from translating to the NHL, but Savard found a way to make himself a valuable player.
He became a stay-home, shot-blocking, do-whatever-it-takes defenseman who earned the trust of any coach he played for. And while his game looked markedly different in the NHL than it did in juniors, Savard still occasionally reminded Blue Jackets fans of the offensive flair he was once known for.
Funny enough, Savard joins the Lightning exactly two years to the day after scoring this spectacular, perhaps-series-shifting goal in Game 1 of the 2019 playoffs.
In anticipation of this deal, the Blue Jackets held Savard out of Thursday's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning for precautionary reasons (i.e., protecting the asset).
Savard finishes his career in Columbus three games shy of 600, having played all games to this point for the team that drafted him. He accumulated 166 points in 597 games (41 goals, 125 assists) and has only missed one game, save for Thursday's healthy scratch, since 2017-18.