The Chicago Blackhawks said all along that Brandon Saad would be back next season.
Right up until Tuesday afternoon.
With contract talks at a stalemate on the eve of NHL free agency, the Stanley Cup champions parted with Saad in a seven-player deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
"Our plan all along was to sign Brandon. I mean obviously we didn't know until we began negotiating where they were going to be," Blackhawks General Manager Stan Bowman said. "All I can say is you do your best and we gave it a real good shot. Both sides tried hard. We just couldn't come to an agreement."
The Blackhawks also sent forward Alex Broadhurst and defenseman Michael Paliotta to the Blue Jackets for forwards Artem Anisimov, Marko Dano, Jeremy Morin and Corey Tropp and a fourth-round selection in the 2016 draft.
Saad set career highs with 23 goals and 29 assists in 82 games this past season. He then had eight goals and three assists in the playoffs, helping Chicago to its third NHL title in six seasons.
"He's going to be a big piece for our team for many, many years to come, so we're very excited," Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen said.
Saad is eligible for restricted free agency, and Kekalainen said the Blue Jackets were working on a new contract for him. If the negotiations continue into the start of free agency Wednesday, he said Columbus would just match any offer sheet from another team.
A big offer sheet for Saad on Wednesday would have put the Blackhawks in a more difficult situation.
"That's a possibility. Obviously, we'll never know that," Bowman said. "I mean that is a factor that you consider when you're looking at things and trying to decide the best course of action."
Sharks trade for goalie
San Jose found its starting goaltender for next season, acquiring Martin Jones in a trade from the Bruins.
The Sharks sent a 2016 first-round pick and unsigned forward prospect Sean Kuraly to the Boston for Jones, four days after he had been dealt from San Jose's biggest rival Los Angeles to the Bruins.
The Sharks quickly locked up Jones long term. Agent Jarrett Bousquet said the two sides agreed Tuesday night to a $9 million, three-year contract.
The Bruins acquired Jones at the draft Friday in a package for left winger Milan Lucic. With Tuukka Rask entrenched as the starter, the Bruins ended up flipping the pending restricted free agent Jones for more young players.
Lee gets four years, $15M from Islanders
The Islanders signed forward Anders Lee to a four-year, $15 million contract. Lee, a former Edina High School and Notre Dame standout, scored 25 goals in 76 games as a rookie last season, finishing second on the Islanders in goals and fourth among NHL rookies.
•The Ducks acquired defenseman Kevin Bieksa from the Canucks for a second-round pick in the 2016 draft, continuing their roster restocking while avoiding the hefty price tags of free agency. Bieksa has spent his entire 10-year NHL career in Vancouver.
•Calgary signed defenseman Dougie Hamilton, acquired from Boston last week, to a six-year contract. Hamilton's deal is reportedly worth $34.5 million. That means the 22-year-old will count $5.75 million per season against the salary cap through 2020-21.
•The Red Wings bought out the final three years of the contract of center Stephen Weiss. Brought in two summers ago for five years and $24.5 million, Weiss played 78 games over two seasons, scoring 11 goals and totaling 29 points. Buying him out means six. … Detroit re-signed defenseman Brendan Smith for $5.5 million over two years.
•The Jets re-signed veteran winger Drew Stafford to a two-year, $8.7-million contract. The 29-year-old former North Dakota standout had nine goals and 17 assists in 26 games with Winnipeg last season after being acquired from Buffalo.
•The Coyotes acquired center Boyd Gordon from the Oilers for forward Lauri Korpikoski.
•The Canadiens and forward Brian Flynn agreed to a $1.9 million, two-year contract.
•The Hurricanes placed forward Alexander Semin on unconditional waivers with the purpose of buying out his contract.
•Connecticut investment banker Ray Bartoszek will submit a formal application to the NHL to acquire an expansion team for Tukwila, Wash., a source close to the negotiations told the Seattle Times. Bartoszek, 50, is heading a group looking to build a multipurpose arena in the municipality just south of Seattle. A rival group headed by Chris Hansen also is planning an arena for Seattle's Sodo District but has yet to reach a deal with a potential NHL owner to seek a team for that facility.