May 30, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Brandon Saad (20) moves the puck past Los Angeles Kings defenseman Slava Voynov (26) during the third period in game six of the Western Conference Final of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Staples Center. The Chicago Blackhawks won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Saad's Next Step


Brandon Saad has emerged as one of the leagues best young players, but he still has room to grow. Saad over the course of his first two seasons in the NHL has had the opportunity to play with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane for extended periods of time. In this time he has shown the ability to hang with these two greats and play at a high level.

Many have dubbed him the next Marian Hossa for the Blackhawks. His offensive play is wonderful, but it’s his defensive work that allows him to draw that comparison. Saad does the little things well, like getting back, getting in on the fore-check and just playing at a high level on every shift. He also has deceptive speed that allows him to get quality chances night after night.

This season, Saad needs to take his game to a whole new level. More than likely, Saad will see time with Patrick Kane and Brad Richards for the majority of the season. He may find himself over shadowed with another star of the caliber of Richards playing along side him. But Saad needs to assert himself as one of the Hawks best players, because that’s what he is.

Saad also has had trouble emerging in the playoffs as the scoring forward that he is. If Saad wants to be apart of that class of top tier players, which he can be, he needs to come up big on the biggest stage. His teammate Bryan Bickell has a knack for coming up big in the playoffs, which led to him getting a massive payday. Saad becoming another threat for the Hawks in the playoffs will only help them match up against the likes of the LA Kings, the Anaheim Ducks and the St. Louis Blues.

At the end of this season, Brandon Saad will be a restricted free agent as his ELC will expire. All signs have pointed to Stan Bowman looking to do a long term extension with Saad (partly why the Kane and Toews extensions were so important to get done now). Saad playing at a high level this season will allow him to get a huge payday and allow the Hawks to lock down another high quality player for the future.

The Blackhawks have done a good job through the draft continuing to stockpile young talented players. The likes of Jeremy Morin, Andrew Shaw, Ben Smith and Saad have been key parts to the Blackhawks success. The growth of these players is just as important. These players molding themselves into quality NHL players is a huge part of the Blackhawks staying on top as a team. Brandon Saad could be the most important one. Him being able to replace Hossa on that top line and play at a similar level can help make up of the loss of Hossa when that day comes.

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