Avalanche acquire Saad in multiplayer trade with Blackhawks

The Colorado Avalanche sent defencemen Nikita Zadorov and Anton Lindholm to the Chicago Blackhawks for Brandon Saad and defenceman Dennis Gilbert.

The Colorado Avalanche sent defencemen Nikita Zadorov and Anton Lindholm to the Chicago Blackhawks for Brandon Saad and defenceman Dennis Gilbert.

The Canadian Press

DENVER — The Colorado Avalanche acquired rugged winger Brandon Saad in a multiplayer trade with the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday.

Colorado sent defencemen Nikita Zadorov and Anton Lindholm to Chicago for Saad and defenceman Dennis Gilbert. The Blackhawks also will retain $1 million of Saad’s $6 million salary for next season.

Zadorov was a restricted free agent, but Chicago said he signed his qualifying offer of $3.2 million prior to the deal. Lindholm’s two-way contract has a salary-cap hit of $742,500, and it runs through the 2020-21 season.

Saad had 21 goals and 12 assists in 58 games last season in the third year of his second stint with Chicago. He was selected by the Blackhawks in the second round of the 2011 draft and helped the team win two Stanley Cup titles before he was traded to Columbus in June 2015.

The 27-year-old Saad has 169 goals and 178 assists in 588 games with the Blackhawks and Blue Jackets. He also has made 81 career post-season appearances, collecting 18 goals and 24 assists.

“In Brandon we are acquiring a two-time Stanley Cup champion who brings veteran leadership and experience to our team. He is a proven goal scorer and at age 27, is in the prime of his career,” general manager Joe Sakic said in a release. “We are also adding a sturdy, young defenceman in Dennis who plays a physical game and will help our depth on the blue line.”

Gilbert, who turns 24 on Oct. 30, had a goal and two assists in 21 games for Chicago last season.

Earlier Saturday, Colorado signed restricted free agent forwards Andre Burakovsky and Valeri Nichushkin to two-year contracts. Burakovsky got $9.8 million, and Nichushkin’s deal is worth $5 million.

The Blackhawks parted with another accomplished veteran in Saad after general manager Stan announced Thursday the team would not be re-signing goaltender Corey Crawford in free agency. Crawford then agreed to a $7.8 million, two-year contract with New Jersey.

The acquisition of Zadorov adds a big, physical presence to Chicago’s blue line after veteran defenceman Brent Seabrook missed much of last season with injuries. The 6-foot-6 Zadorov, who turned 25 in April, had four goals and nine assists in 64 games last season.

Zadorov, a first-round pick by Buffalo in 2013, has 22 goals and 53 assists in 356 games with the Sabres and Avalanche.

Sharks re-sign Labanc to 4-year contract

More than a year after taking a team-friendly contract to help the San Jose Sharks, Kevin Labanc is finally cashing in.

More than a year after taking a team-friendly contract to help the San Jose Sharks, Kevin Labanc is finally cashing in.

More than a year after taking a team-friendly contract to help the San Jose Sharks, Kevin Labanc is finally cashing in.

Labanc signed an $18.9 million, four-year deal Saturday that carries an annual salary cap hit of $4,725,000. That’s a significant raise from the $1 million he made last season after putting up a career-high 56 points.

“I just gambled on myself,” Labanc said. “It has nothing to do with ’18-19. I know I’m a top-six forward and I know that I can produce and be a good player and help this team out and help this team reach new heights this upcoming year.”

Labanc’s production went down to 33 points last season as he struggled along with the rest of the Sharks, who finished third-worst in the NHL. He was a playoff hero and had nine points in San Jose’s 2019 run to the Western Conference final, which is why his low-money contract that summer raised eyebrows.

Getting almost $5 million a year for the next four seasons makes more sense. The Sharks have more financial flexibility now after a down year and didn’t forget what Labanc and his camp did to try to keep them cap compliant last season.

“Do you remember it? Yes, of course you do,” general manager Doug Wilson said. “But it’s extremely rare in this league to have a 23-year-old kid score 56 points like he did, so we know the skillsets that he has. We all got to see his playoff performance and what we all witnessed.”

Labanc had a hand in all four goals of the Sharks’ memorable third-period comeback in Game 7 against Vegas in the first round in 2019.

But Wilson insists this contract is more about what Labanc could do through 2024 than what he did back then. Labanc is just 24 and is an important young piece of the Sharks core.

“It’s about where you’re going,” Wilson said. “This is forecasting Kevin Labanc to be a 60-point scorer for the next four years.”

That’s a high expectation for the Staten Island, New York, native who has already over performed his status as a sixth-round pick in the 2014 draft. But coach Bob Boughner likes Labanc’s creativity at 5-on-5 and on the power play, and this contract is another incentive for a player who embraces pressure.

“I look at pressure as a privilege,” Labanc said. “You work your whole life to get to this point in your career and the best way to handle pressure is by attacking it, and that’s what I plan on doing this season.”

Labanc has 149 points on 50 goals and 99 assists in 284 career regular-season NHL games. The Sharks aren’t worried about his numbers falling last season and think it could actually help in the next few years.

“He’s a kid that responds when he falls and skins his knees a little bit, and this deal is about going forward,” Wilson said. “We’ve seen what he can do. This deal is about the ingredients he has moving forward, and we’re excited for him.”