Jun 1, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Brandon Saad (20) is congratulated for scoring during the first period in game seven of the Western Conference Final of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Los Angeles Kings at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Summer Assignment 2014: Brandon Saad
Games Played: 78
Blocked Shots: 20
Blocked Shots: 9
Contract Status: 1 Year remaining on 3-year deal (restricted free agent thereafter) with a cap hit of $764,167 per season
2013 Over/Under Number: 22 Goals, 23 Assists
Season Review: Notwithstanding the disappointing end to the playoffs, Brandon Saad can look back at his sophomore season with the Chicago Blackhawks without much regret or complaint. He took another huge step in his career this past season, further developing his play while remaining versatile, reliable, and generally consistent. Perhaps more than any other Hawk, he weathered the line blender quite well.
His snub from the Team USA roster for the Winter Olympics in February may have left people scratching their heads, but at age 21, he has plenty of time to make the next team – or two, or three. No doubt a bummer to Saad himself and many Hawks fans who would have loved to see him represent Team USA along with Patrick Kane, but it may have been a blessing in disguise for him to rest and recharge for the late season push to the playoffs.
And about that late-season upper-body injury that sidelined him for a few games, it hardly seemed to hold him back from soaring in the post-season. He appeared to be one of the hardest-working Hawks in the playoffs, right up there with Captain Jonathan Toews. Saad also surpassed many of his prior-season playoff stats.
Certainly, some of that spark came from Coach Quenneville’s epiphany in putting Saad on a line with Kane and Andrew Shaw in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final. But to be fair, Saad already had a lot of spark in the first place, which was amplified by the lineup. It should not surprise anyone to see him winning the Conn Smythe Trophy at some point in his career. Let’s just hope that when the moment comes, he will be wearing a Hawks sweater.
What is your grade for Saad?