Of course moments after this is published there are reports Boston made a deal for a forward.
First round pick, David Backes and a prospect to Anaheim https://t.co/eIyKASGurk
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) February 21, 2020
Multiple outlets are reporting the Boston Bruins are interested in Brandon Saad.
Great. Sounds terrific. A good team is interested in a good player on the Blackhawks. And they might pay a premium to get him.
But how could that deal look if it were to happen?
Let’s address two issues with a Saad-to-Boston deal.
First, what would the compensation look like for Chicago?
Any deal involving Saad would need to start with a first round pick. Boston has one in 2020, but it obviously won’t be a lottery pick. So Chicago would be getting a pick that likely would end up in the late-20s. Good start.
What about re-stocking the Blackhawks’ pipeline? Chicago has depth on the blue line coming (assuming they can sign Ian Mitchell) but there aren’t many impact forwards in the system.
The first name I would want in a deal is John Beecher. He turns 19 on April 5 and is a freshman at the University of Michigan. Boston drafted him 30th overall in the 2019 NHL Draft. Listed at 6-3 and 210 pounds, Beecher has seven goals and seven assists in 25 games this year for the Wolverines.
Before the 2019 draft, McKeen’s said “Between his size and his balance, [Beecher] likes to play in front of the opposing goaltender, where he can be near impossible to dislodge.” HockeyProspect.com said, “[Beecher] has a really good understanding of how to use his body to shield pucks and win battles on the boards.”
A big center? Sounds great! Adding Beecher up front to Jonathan Toews and Kirby Dach sounds like a lineup that can do damage in the Central Division.
Another name that would be nice is Trent Frederic. The Bruins’ first round pick in 2016 (29th overall), Frederic is currently playing for Boston’s AHL affiliate where he has 26 points in 50 games. He just turned 22 on Feb. 11 and, like Beecher, is a left-handed shooting center. He’s listed at 6-2 and 200 pounds, so there’s more size for the Blackhawks.
Whether or not Boston would give up two of their top prospects and a first round pick could be tricky; Boston hasn’t traditionally liked to part ways with top prospects.
But making this deal happen would require some creative math, which brings us to the second consideration when considering Boston as a potential partner for a Saad deal.
The elephant int he room that would need to be addressed is the Bruins’ lack of cap space. According to CapFriendly the Bruins have $84,450 in deadline cap space right now.
That number includes $4.925M in dead money on David Backes. His contract has a $6M AAV with one year remaining after the 2019-20 season – the same number as Saad.
Boston would love to move Backes’ contract. And the Blackhawks have cap space available this year to absorb some/all of his cap hit if they were to move Saad.
But Backes does nothing to help the Chicago Blackhawks. At 35, Backes isn’t an NHL regular any longer and any thought that Backes would somehow help the Blackhawks get back into the playoffs next year should be thrown in a trash can the Astros are no longer banging on when someone calls for a curveball.
So what happens if Backes’ deal is included in a trade for Saad? Chicago might need to do that to make the deal work financially for Boston.
Hypothetically, the Hawks could buyout Backes this summer. The result of that would be a $4M cap hit in 2020-21 and a $1M cap hit in 2021-22. That number is $2M lower than Saad’s cap hit for next year, but it would be dead weight for the Blackhawks to carry with some players they need to pay. So the help wouldn’t be significant for the Blackhawks.
Boston could also retain salary on Backes if he were part of the deal. That doesn’t help the Bruins as much as they would like, and would probably limit the caliber of prospects the Blackhawks got in return. But it’s an option.
However a deal were to be put together, Chicago would need to take considerable money back from Boston to make the math work. And Saad is playing well enough to garner a strong package in return. Boston has the prospects and picks to put together something that might entice Stan Bowman to pull the trigger, but Chicago would need to be flexible to eat some money in the process.