Brandon Saad, The Chicago Blackhawks Newest 3C?

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 22: Brandon Saad
COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 22: Brandon Saad /

The different Chicago Blackhawks Lineup Possibilities for this fall have caused a lot of speculation, so much so that even former NHLers are weighing in on it.

On 8/21/17, @MadhousePod interviewed former NHL Journeyman Mike Rupp. Playing for six different franchises over fourteen years, Rupp won one Stanley Cup, scoring the clinching goal for the New Jersey Devils in 2003.

While talking hockey, Rupp made an interesting comment regarding the Chicago Blackhawks that stood out among others, which can be seen below:

Rupp claims that the Blackhawks could find more success having Saad as the 3rd line center. While this may make the Hawks stronger down the middle and spread out some scoring, it defeats the purpose of reacquiring Saad, which was his chemistry with Toews, and to try to replace some of what the Hawks will presumably miss in Hossa.

Potential Lines

If Q was to slot Saad into 3C, the team would line up something like this:

Hartman-Toews -Panik                                               Hartman-Toews-Panik

Sharp-Anisimov-Kane                        OR                  Debrincat-Anisimov-Kane

Schmaltz-Saad-Wingles                                              Sharp-Saad-Schmaltz

Bouma-Kero-Hayden                                                  Bouma-Kero-Hayden

While the lineup presents many question marks because of rookie talent and free agent acquisitions, the first lineup is much more likely due to Alex DeBrincat needing a year in Rockford, with the latter lineup being more likely for the following season. And that’s if Q makes the bold move slotting Saad in at 3C. Statistically, what’s the best option? Let’s find out.

The Stats

An NHL Analytic Tool through Dobber Sports allows you to analyze a players production when on a line with someone else, and that’s one way to determine whether or not Saad and Toews being split up is a good option. When playing with Saad during the 2014-15 regular season, Toews scored 27 of his 66 total points. During the same campaign, while playing with Toews, Saad amassed 27 of his 52 total points. After being traded to Columbus and being split up from Toews, Saad scored 53 points in each of the next two seasons, not seeing a drop or increase in production. Comparatively, Toews saw his point total drop to 58, which he scored in each of the next two seasons.

Related Story: Saad's Performance In Columbus

Also, if a player of this caliber was to be moved to the center role, he would have to play a more 200-foot game, and also win faceoffs. Saad has taken a mere 299 faceoffs in his career, and to put it into perspective, Toews has taken 13,707 faceoffs. Saad has won 128 of them, meaning he has a faceoff win percentage of 42% in his career. With Toews and Anisimov recently struggling in the dot, and faceoff specialist Marcus Kruger being dealt to Carolina, the Hawks need to get better at the dot, not worse.

As shown through the stats, a Toews/Saad split this upcoming year would harm Toews a lot more than it would Saad. Toews has seen a revolving door of left wingers since Saad was traded, and he even started to see that on the right hand side as well before Richard Panik found a home there. Toews would greatly benefit from stability when it comes to linemates, which is why 20-19-14 needs to stay intact all year. Mirroring the wildly successful 20-19-81 line from the 2015 Cup Run, this will give the Hawks the best chance at success, with their captain on fire and leading the way.

Next: Jonathan Toews Needs To Produce To Keep Legacy