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Buckeye State Hockey Roundtable: Could a rumor surrounding Saad have legs?

A rumor surrounding Brandon Saad sprouted up yesterday courtesy of Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet talking about the availability of Saad.

It obviously got our group of writers abuzz and it made for a very interesting conversation, we had some strong feelings on the rumor, some good and some bad.

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Alison Lukan: Saad came up in Elliotte Friedman’s 30 Thoughts this week. What are OUR thoughts on this?

The Coach: I’m curious where this is coming from. He’s bending the stats there to make it look like Saad has been bad this year. He may be 5th in scoring, but he’s on pace for a 70 point season, and is top 10 in the NHL in points per 60 among forwards with 100 minutes at even strength, and top 20 in primary points per 60.

Jeremy Crowe: Just a year ago, when the Blue Jackets traded a whole whack of stuff to get him, Brandon Saad was considered a soon-to-be franchise forward. And now, a year later, after a 30 goal season, leading the team and consistently being the best forward and top scoring threat, he’s supposedly on the chopping block? I don’t buy it. If the issue is that he hasn’t immediately blossomed into the top-end two-way player that he was touted as upon his arrival, despite the lofty point totals, that would just be a shame. If Saad is putting up 30 goals, has a positive influence on shot totals/scoring chances, and is consistently the only real first line threat the team has, trading him to fill another gap just seems like a lateral move. But sure, if there’s a proven first line winger under a reasonable contract (as Saad is) that you’re targeting, then you certainly explore the idea. The Friedman 30 Thought does not point to that, though. Trading the best scoring forward on the team because of a supposed “cap crunch” would be the kind of ass-backward move to ensure the franchise continues to tread water year after year.

The Coach: That is especially true when you consider the “cap crunch” the CBJ have is non-existent. They have cap space. They have the 9th most cap space in the entire league.

Alison: *Is* there any trade that makes this palatable?

The Coach: Possibly a 1st line center, just because there is slightly more value to a center than a winger. Not sure who it would be though, as the age/contract of Saad makes him a very valuable commodity. Maybe someone like Nathan Mackinnon would be a fine trade?

Jeremy: Is that realistic, though?

The Coach: Probably not. Not a lot of young 1C types under solid contracts though.

Jeremy: Are any teams lining up to get rid of 18-25 year old #1 Cs for a winger? I would think if that’s the case, CBJ are certainly going to be adding a whole lot to make it happen.

Alison: Where do we all stand on this as a possible thing that happens?

Avery Kreemer: I think Friedman reporting on it certainly gives it legitimacy that the Jackets are at least open to conversations about Saad, and ultimately I do think that this gives some credibility to the idea that being on Tortorella’s bad side is a grim reaper of sorts. As Jeremy and the Coach have pointed out, Saad had a great season last year and is putting up very good numbers again this year. Saad was brought in to become this kind of franchise player and I would argue that he’s growing into that role quite nicely. Ultimately, the timing seems off. I was unaware of any tension between the organization and the player until the healthy scratch rumors, and now, about a week later, there are signs that the player might be up for grabs. It seems like an oddly quick turnaround on a player who has been very successful in the CBJ uniform, if the rumors are true.

Mark Erickson: If I had to bet on it I’d say Freidman knew that the Jackets were open to the idea of trading anyone on the roster last season to get out of their cap situation. When combined with a decrease in Saad’s productivity so far this year he’s probably just putting it out there as a possibility. The fact that they’re no longer in the same cap situation makes me think this is extremely unlikely.

The Coach: That is an incredibly shaky theory for someone with the reputation and credibility of Elliotte Friedman. I would strongly suspect he is hearing something from somewhere. It may not be from the CBJ, it may be theorizing by front office members from other teams. He’s a guy with a very long track record of being on the money and NOT dealing in that kind of Eklund style speculation that it would be so out of character for him to just be throwing darts at the wall based on last year’s news.

Jeremy: It just seems an absurd thing to think about doing, especially with such flimsy reasons.

Avery: Agreed. Especially when you take into consideration that Saad really has been nothing but successful. It was a good trade, a good contract signing, and he’s fitting in well. It seems crazy to me that he would be shopped, but it’s out there and I tend to believe Friedman.