The Blues have agreed to terms on a five-year, $22.5 million contract with free-agent forward Brandon Saad.
The move gives the team a desperately-needed left winger who will step in immediately to their top six.
“I’m looking forward to getting to know the city a little bit better, because when you play there you’re kind of in-and-out and you don’t get to see all parts of the city,” Saad said via Zoom call Thursday.
“Obviously they’re a great hockey team that I’m looking forward to joining and having another chance of winning and have that success. I think all the ingredients are there and it’s a team that definitely excites me, that’s for sure.”
Saad was part of two Stanley Cup championship teams as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks, and one of his considerations in signing with another team was going to a contender.
Saad, 28, has scored 20-plus goals in five of the past seven seasons and was considered one of the top remaining players on the market heading into Day 2 of free agency.
“It’s a big decision. It’s something that I’ve never been through,” Saad said. “Having a family and a couple young kids, it’s something where you have to talk to your family, kind of weigh out the pros and cons and living situation, team situation
“So there’s more that goes into it than you think and it’s something I just really wanted to think about and digest before making a decision.”
Saad has had two stints with Chicago, one with Columbus and played for Colorado last season, but on the three prior occasions where he switched clubs, those moves were the result of trades. This was the first time he has reached the market as a free agent.
Saad scored 15 goals in 44 games last season for the Colorado Avalanche, but after re-signing Cale Makar and Gabriel Landeskog, the Avalanche did not have enough salary cap room to retain Saad.
“As far as communication, there was some between (Colorado) and my agent, but I kind of leave that up to him moreso than anything,” Saad said. “It really didn’t seem like we could get a deal done, so we kind of moved on from that.”
According to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, the New Jersey Devils and Carolina Hurricanes also were showing interest in Saad.
A second-round draft pick by Chicago in 2011, Saad was a finalist in 2013 for the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year. He was an NHL all-star in 2016 for the Columbus Blue Jackets, finishing the 2015-16 season with 31 goals.
In addition to his 184 career regular-season goals, Saad also has been a strong postseason performer. He had seven goals in 10 postseason games last season for the Avalanche, including three goals in their four-game, opening-round sweep of St. Louis.
With Chicago, he scored eight goals, including two game-winners, in the Blackhawks’ playoff run to the Stanley Cup in 2015.
“It's something as a player, where I like to contribute a 200-foot game as well as scoring and contribute in that aspect,” Saad said. “So I think that's part of how I pride myself on being a consistent player night in, night out. That just the type of person and player I am, so I'm definitely proud of that.”
Saad had just completed the final year of a six-year contract that he signed with Columbus, one that averaged $6 million a year. So in locking him up for five years at $4.5 million a year, the Blues have to like the contract.
The signing leaves the Blues with about $8.5 million in salary cap space. That should be about enough to re-sign restricted free agents Ivan Barbashev, Dakota Joshua, Jordan Kyrou, Zach Sanford and Robert Thomas. But to make any other moves, the Blues will have to rid themselves of Vladimir Tarasenko’s $7.5 million contract by trading the disgruntled forward.
There are still thought to be several teams interested in Tarasenko, including the New York Islanders and New Jersey.
As they restock their American Hockey League roster with the Springfield (Mass.) Thunderbirds, the Blues have signed three players to one-year, two-way contracts: forwards Matthew Peca and Nathan Todd, and goalie Charlie Lindgren.
Peca, 28, was a seventh-round pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2011 and has 78 games of NHL experience with Tampa Bay, Montreal and Ottawa – scoring six goals with 14 assists in those contests. He played five games for the Ottawa Senators last season, registering one assist, and spent the rest of the year with the Belleville Senators in the AHL.
Peca, 5-9, 183, was an AHL all-star during the 2017-18 season with the Syracuse Crunch, and was an ECAC first-team all-star in ’14-15 at Quinnipiac University.
Todd, 25, score 12 goals with 20 assists in 32 games last season playing for the Manitoba Moose in the AHL. He led the Canadian Division in scoring and was named to the division all-star team. The native of Kemptville, Ontario, has not played an NHL game and has played in either the AHL or ECHL for most of the past six seasons.
Lindgren, 27, has played in 24 NHL games dating back to the 2015-16 – all with the Montreal Canadiens. He went 10-12-2 in those contests with a 3.00 goals-against average, a save percentage of .907, and two shutouts.
A native of Lakeville, Minn., Lindgren played college hockey at St. Cloud State and has spent most of the past four seasons playing for the Laval Rocket in the AHL. Until Joel Hofer gets more pro seasoning, Lindgren could be the third goalie in the organization in a role similar to Jon Gilles last season.
He’s the brother of New York Rangers defenseman Ryan Lindgren.©2021 STLtoday.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.