After the Chicago Blackhawks lost great two-way forward Marian Hossa due to a skin ailment, Brandon Saad will need to step up his efforts in replacement as Jonathan Toews‘ linemate
Re-obtaining Brandon Saad from the Columbus Blue Jackets was a crucial deal for the Chicago Blackhawks heading into the 2017-18 season. With Marian Hossa projected to miss the upcoming season, the ’Hawks were going to be missing an elite two-way presence on the team.
Hossa was always able to lift his team up when the hour seemed dark with his clutch performances. However, with Saad reinforcing that role, his responsibilities have doubled along the way.
Helping Jonathan Toews a must
Ever since the ’Hawks’ 2014-15 Cup run, things haven’t been the same for Jonathan Toews. He’s been paired with a revolving door of players and has yet to find his rhythm with whoever coach Joel Quenneville thought fit best on the top line.
With a mighty fall in production and plus/minus rating from the 2014-15 season, it was obvious Toews needed help. Going from a plus-30 to a plus-7 in three years is a dramatic setback, especially for someone as elite as Toews. Not to mention, his point production has been stagnant for the past two years, as he hasn’t broken 60 points since being paired with Saad.
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Saad’s elite presence at such a young age is something that Toews feeds off dramatically. We’ve seen it in previous years, and I’m sure we’ll see it again this upcoming season.
Last time these two were together, they combined for a total of 118 points (51 goals, 67 assists) and a plus-37 rating. All are great to see, and it could definitely lift the roster and add depth as the best line on the team, which will be much needed after this year’s roster overhaul.
Two-way play needs To stay progressive
Now, with the nickname “Mini Hossa,” there’s a lot to say about Saad.
He was a plus-23 last season with the Blue Jackets during their great regular-season run. Saad was definitely a powerful force on that team with his depth and unbelievable two-way play.
To have a guy who can score 20 plus goals and play a full 200-foot game is something that can change the entire dynamic of each game.
There’s no doubt Saad will probably have a greater season than last year on the Blackhawks’ top line, but he’s going to need to fight harder than ever. Saad is the type of player who steps up harder than anyone when the going gets tough and the waters start to rise.
He’s going to be a vital player on the roster, and the pressure will be on throughout the course of this season. Let’s just hope he’s able to keep his head above the crashing waves.