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Chicago Blackhawks 2017-18 Regular Season Expectations: Newcomers

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COLUMBUS, OH - APRIL 16: Brandon Saad
COLUMBUS, OH - APRIL 16: Brandon Saad /
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COLUMBUS, OH – APRIL 6: Brandon Saad
COLUMBUS, OH – APRIL 6: Brandon Saad /

Brandon Saad

Expectation: He’ll surpass 53 points and 17:15 in average ice time.

Like with Murphy, these are Saad’s career bests in the NHL. Saad has been very consistent the last three seasons, posting totals of 52, 53 and 53 points. That ATOI mark came in his last regular season with the Blackhawks before his 2015 trade, though he’s been above 17 minutes each of the last two seasons.

Let’s start with the latter point. If Saad doesn’t surpass that time on ice mark, something has gone horribly wrong. Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella didn’t quite know how to use Saad, and it showed in his time on ice. Q was apprehensive to push Saad too quickly during the latter’s first run in Chicago, but eventually had things figured out when pairing him with Jonathan Toews and Hossa.

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  • It’s going to be a requirement for Saad to be on the ice frequently, as the Blackhawks’ bottom six is in a state of major flux. Saad, Toews, Patrick Kane, Artem Anisimov and probably Richard Panik are going to be asked to do some heavy lifting.

    Now the point total is another matter. Saad will regularly be paired with Toews, no doubt. Who else is on his line (probably Panik) remains to be seen. But the thought with Saad returning was that it would jump-start Toews offensively. If that holds true, Saad’s career-high point total should jump. I’ll be optimistic amid the concern of this offseason.

    Expectation analysis: He’ll surpass 53 points and 17:15 in average ice time.

    Patrick Sharp

    Expectation: He’ll surpass 30 points.

    This is such a tough thing to predict. There was good news most recently, as Sharp was seen skating ahead of a prospect camp session last week. Amid fears his offseason hip surgery would leave him unable to play opening night, that’s definitely a good sign.

    For Sharp, it’s clear the skill is still there. In his first season in Dallas, he posted 55 points (albeit playing with guys like Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin). Last season saw him tally just 18 points while dealing with multiple concussions and the aforementioned hip problem over 48 games.

    So the question becomes, can Sharp stay healthy in 2017-18. The answer is totally up in the air. Sharp is going to be asked to be the leading bottom-six guy, unless things get so bad that he’s required on the top six (or if Q just thinks that’s the answer during a blender session). Will he play with guys like Ryan Hartman and Nick Schmaltz, or will he play with guys like Bouma, Tanner Kero and Tommy Wingels?

    That question is pretty important here. Sharp still has the ability to make plays, but it’s diminished with his injuries and age. And Sharp is going to need Hossa-like maintenance days more often than he used to. I’m going to be very specific with my prediction here and hope it’s wrong in a positive way.

    Expectation analysis: He won’t surpass 30 points, but finish right at the mark.

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