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The Penguins almost traded for Brandon Saad

Although the Stanley Cup hero ended up getting traded to Columbus by Chicago, the Pittsburgh Penguins were right in the hunt of the trade race to get Brandon Saad.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

In the most surprising move so far of the NHL off-season (well, maybe the most surprising move not involving the Boston Bruins)...the Chicago Blackhawks today traded Brandon Saad...Yes, THAT Brandon Saad, to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

If that wasn't shocking enough, how about the fact that the Pittsburgh Penguins were seemingly the #2 team in on Saad.

TSN's Bob McKenzie said that Saad was seeking a $6.5 million annual salary for 6 years from Chicago.

What does it mean for the Penguins?

Well, really a good thing if you think about it. The Pens offer wasn't better than Columbus. What did Columbus give up?

  • Artem Anisimov (a big 3rd line center, who makes $3.3 million dollars and is 1 year away from UFA...Eerily similar description Brandon Sutter though Anisimov all-around might be a tad better)
  • Marko Dano (an exciting 20 year old winger and former first round pick who split his rooking year between pros and AHL, scoring 21 points in 35 NHL games last year...So, kind of like Kasperi Kapanen but closer to a finished product)
  • Jeremy Morin (a 24 year old former 2nd round pick who's only played 82 NHL games, languished between NHL and AHL and hasn't found a niche yet....Beau Bennett sounds like the closest Penguin comparable)
  • Cody Tropp (a 25 year old 4th line player with #heart and #grit. Pens don't have a great comparable player here, but of all the pieces this is the most replacable with a generic mid-level prospect or checker like a Scott Wilson or Bryan Rust)

So what did the Penguins offer? No one knows for now, but it seems like to give Chicago a better deal than what they got from Columbus, Pittsburgh would have to include a blue chip defenseman. Meaning one of Derrick Pouliot or Olli Maatta.

And then add on additional pieces like Sutter, Bennett and maybe another young forward like Scott Wilson or Bryan Rust.

Would you give up Maatta/Pouliot + Sutter + Bennett + 1 more prospect for Brandon Saad? (Knowing it's likely going to take $6+ million to do so?) A lot of the fan arguments about Phil Kessel seem to apply to Saad here, if you have a PHILosophical objection to trading so much for a high-end winger. Sure, Saad is 5 years younger than Kessel, but Kessel is the most productive winger in the league since 2011-12 that isn't named Ovechkin. One is on the upswing, one is already the 2nd best point producing winger. Tomato, to-mat-toe.

That said, it's encouraging that the Penguins were in the conversation. They made a run at Saad. They're trying to address how to get talent from whatever way possible, it seems like. That's a positive development. They don't have blinders on for just Kessel or just TJ Oshie or just free agents, it looks like they're doing their due diligence to see what is out there, and more importantly how they can add a Top-6 forward without surrendering the real prizes in Maatta or Pouliot.

In that way, it might be a silver lining to losing Saad to know that, at least for now, the Penguins seem to be cautious and conservative in their trade negotiations and not antsy or panicked to make a big or foolish trade.