Thursday, July 29, 2021

Blues sign Saad to five-year contract

UFA forward gets $22.5 million ($4.5 million AAV) 
on contract, addresses need for top-six forward

ST. LOUIS -- The Blues addressed a need for a top-six left wing when they signed free agent forward Brandon Saad to a five-year, $22.5 million contract that carries an an average annual value of $4.5 million.

Reports say the contract includes a full no-trade clause for the first four seasons and modified no-trade clause in the fifth year.

The 28-year-old, who played last season for the Colorado Avalanche, had 24 points (15 goals, nine assists) in 44 regular-season games eight points (seven goals, one assist) in 10 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

(St. Louis Blues photo)
Brandon Saad (20) joined the Blues on Friday when he signed a five-year,
$22.5 million contract.
"I'm excited," Saad said. "I'm looking to getting to know the city a little bit better because when you play there, kind of in and out and you don't get to see all parts of the city, but I've heard great things and they're obviously 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, so I'm definitely glad to be a part of it."

Saad, 28, fits the need for specifically a left wing that can play a two-way game and drive offense at the other end. Of his 371 points, 318 of them have come at even strength, an area the Blues need improvement in.

"I think from playing against them, they play a heavy game," Saad said of his fit with the Blues. "They like to hold onto pucks, cycle pucks, protects it, and that's all part of my identity as well. I think I can fit right into that aspect as well as play a 200-foot game.

"... I think that's a huge part of it too. I'm a hockey player, I'm competitive and I want to contribute. Any time you can have an opportunity to play and play for a good team, I think that definitely excites you as a hockey player. That's something I definitely thought about."

Saad waited a day before making his decision after a busy day to open free agency on Wednesday when, according to cap friendly, 163 contracts were signed to $785-plus million.

"I think it's a big decision," Saad said. "It's something I've never been through. 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, living situations, team situations. It's more that goes into it than you think, so it's something I just really wanted to think about and digest before making a decision."

Saad was part of the Avalanche that swept the Blues in the first round of the playoffs this past season, but bwing a two-time Stanley Cup winner and knowing the Blues have a number of guys that recently won it adds to the pedigree of experience of knowing how to get it done.

"For sure. I think that experience, it's to hard to come by, so any time you can join a team that's had success, especially recently, they know what it takes to win, they kind of have that mentality," Saad said of the Blues. "I think that's huge and something that you can't really put a price on that experience. 

"I think that was a huge part. It's something where I've won in my career, I've been fortunate. Once you get a taste of it, that's something that there's no better feeling. I think when it comes down to it, I wanted to go somewhere where you have a chance of winning and you're going to have a successful team. The Blues fit that mold."

It will be decided at at camp of course, but the idea of playing with Ryan O'Reilly and David Perron excites Saad should be get that chance.

"Those are two great players," Saad said. "I think that's an exciting line for sure. There's a lot of good options on that team, but those guys are great. After playing against them, they're the kind of guys that you hate to play against because of how competitive they are and how successful they are. I'm definitely excited to be joining them."

Selected by the Chicago Blackhawks in the second round of the 2011 NHL Draft, Saad has 371 points (184 goals, 187 assists) in 632 regular-season games with the Avalanche, Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets; he's played seven of his 10 NHL seasons in Chicago where he won the Stanley Cup in 2013 and 2015.

Now he gets to don the Blues jersey.

"For sure, it's something that's part of the business as a hockey player," Saad said. "Like you said, there's a lot of rivalries and a lot of good teams we got to battle out with the Blues, so that's something that's going to be a little weird at first putting on the sweater, but that's something too when you go through those battles, you appreciate the guys on the other side as well so I'm excited to be joining them."

Saad joins forward Pavel Buchnevich as new top-six forwards added to the group for this season.

Buchnevich was acquired in a trade from the New York Rangers last week for Sammy Blais and a 2022 second-round pick.

With Saad's signing, the Blues have over $8.5 million in cap space available with restricted free agents to Robert Thomas, Jordan Kyrou, Ivan Barbashev, Zach Sanford and Dakota Joshua to sign. They could gain another $7.5 million in cap space pending a trade of forward Vladimir Tarasenko.

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