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Ex-Chicago Blackhawk Saad Finds Grass Not Always Greener

By Sean Fitzgerald
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This offseason, the Chicago Blackhawks shocked the NHL by trading Brandon Saad. General Manager Stan Bowman feared an offer sheet from several teams and ultimately traded Saad to the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Saad trade crushed the Blackhawks fan base but made sense from a financial standpoint. Saad wanted more money than the Blackhawks could pay under the salary cap.  The Saad pickup was supposed to propel the Blue Jackets back to the playoffs and hurt the Blackhawks. The narrative has not worked out as most people envisioned.

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The Blackhawks have struggled to replace Saad’s production on the top line with Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews, trying Viktor Tikhonov, Ryan Garbutt, Andrew Shaw, Tanner Kero and Teuvo Teravainen twice on their left wing. If the last two games are any indication, the Blackhawks may have finally found their Saad replacement in Teuvo, who has two goals and one assist in his latest top-line stint. The Blackhawks are 2-0-0 in those two games.

On the season, despite missing Saad, the Blackhawks are third in the Central with a record of 15-9-4. The good start for the Blackhawks can be attributed to play of the second line featuring Artemi Panarin, Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov. In case people forgot, Anisimov was one of the pieces that were sent to the Blackhawks in the Saad deal.

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Now the Blues Jackets are a different story. They got off to a terrible start. They started the season a depressing 0-8-0.  After losing their first seven games, head coach Todd Richards was fired. No one is blaming Saad for the poor start and Richards getting fired — the Blue Jackets are just  a poorly constructed team. They have a very weak blue, and nobody envisioned Sergei Bobrovsky struggling this much.

Saad is probably the lone bright spot on the Blue Jackets so far. He had nine goals and eight assists, which is respectable. Despite being the third-highest point producer on the team, Saad has been relegated to the fourth line by new head coach John Tortorella. Torts said it was to balance out the scoring on the Blue Jackets. The Blue Jackets need all the offense they can get, as they are currently 11-16-2 on the season and sit eighth in the Metropolitan.

After his “demotion” to the fourth line, do you think Saad regrets his decision to join the Blue Jackets? Do you think he misses Hossa and Toews giving him great scoring chances? I would answer yes and yes. Saad rarely found himself off the top two lines during his tenure with the Blackhawks.

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I can only speculate that Saad misses the Blackhawks and their winning ways. Do you think $6 million a year helps ease his pain? I hope it does.

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