As the countdown to the Chicago Blackhawks 2018-19 season continues, we’ll take a look at one player who wore the same number as there are days left until October 4 when the season kicks off against the Ottawa Senators.
For four years, Brandon Saad was more or less the epitome of what you want to see out of a draft pick. He was taken with the 13th pick in the 2nd round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft (43rd overall). He’d play just two games with the Chicago Blackhawks during the 2011-12 season.
Then, in 2012-13, we started to see the player Brandon had the potential to be. He placed third in Calder Memorial Trophy voting that season and would put up 27 points in his rookie year (10 G, 17 A).
It was in the next two seasons, however, where Saad fully came into his own. He posted two consecutive career-best seasons in 2013-14 (19 G, 28 A) and 2014-15 (23 G, 29 A).
Saad had two back-to-back top tier playoff performances in those two years putting up 16 and 11 points, respectively.
Keep in mind, he had these seasons at 20 and 21 years old. As we all know, Saad was part of two Stanley Cup winning teams in 2013 and 2015. Unfortunately, following the Cup win in 2015 the Chicago Blackhawks chose to part ways with Brandon.
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That trade looked pretty good as in the following season Anisimov, Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin tormented opposing opponents all season with their electric offense.
Meanwhile, the Blackhawks saw the decline of their number one center, Jonathan Toews, after the departure of his favorite winger (Saad).
As a result, they would go on to trade Panarin in exchange for Saad before the 2017-18 season. Though there were other parts of this trade, the two of them have been the vocal points of discussion ever since it was executed.
That said, the Blackhawks were less than pleased with the season Saad put together last year. The Blackhawks were without Marian Hossa and Saad and Toews were forced to sacrifice offense to shoulder the responsibilities which Hossa left behind. Saad put up just 35 points, the lowest since his rookie season. While that isn’t explicitly terrible, it hurts pretty bad given Panarin put up 82 points in 81 games for the Blue jackets last year.
As of right now, the Blackhawks are trying to shake things up by having Saad skate on the second line with Kane and Nick Schmaltz.
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The hope is, Saad will thrive with Kane and Schmaltz’s creativity and playmaking ability while Alex DeBrincat’s lethal offensive talent will help to rejuvenate Toews. Patrick Kane’s interviews at training camp today gave off the impression that he’s very excited to play with Saad, so it’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out.
Stay tuned for more updates on training camp as well as the rest of our regular season countdown.