Chicago Blackhawks‘ Brandon Saad is considerably a better-than-not two way forward. Being nicknamed, “Mini Hossa,” and contributing to two Stanley Cup championships has set a standard for his somewhat elite level of play. However, after displaying little to no passion on the ice during the first five games, he has belittled that standard.
Let’s face it, the Chicago Blackhawks, — for the most part — lost the Artemi Panarin trade. Acquiring a well-rounded forward with the potential to lift teammates to newer heights for a scoring powerhouse may have seemed like a fantastic idea down the road, however, it is certainly not that way right now.
The Blackhawks have been driving for miles with the gaslight staggered on E for the previous year or so and one of the main catalysts for that reason is Saad’s lack of structure.
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Saad completed last years’ campaign with his worst season yet, acquiring a minuscule 35 points (18 G, 17 A) in 82 games. What we hoped was just a fad has now set into reality. Brandon Saad is struggling once again through the first five games of this season, only putting up two assists and nine collective shots on net.
Through this struggle, it has cost Saad a lot.
During the Blackhawks previous overtime win versus the St. Louis Blues, Saad only saw 10:14 of ice time and didn’t step foot on the ice during OT. Fans have noticed and the coaching staff is starting to become vocal about it too. One such example of this is shown in Saad’s new fourth-line role. Additionally, Saad skated in the white sweater worn by injured players and healthy scratches during Monday’s practice.
For reference, Brandon Saad is not injured.
While this continuous downward trend may be surprising to fans, two NHL scouts have been calling this since before the start of the season.
"“I got to be honest with you, I didn’t see Brandon Saad the other night,” said one NHL scout to The Athletic’s Scott Powers after one preseason game. “He was invisible. When he’s not playing with top guys, he doesn’t respect who he’s playing and he’s selfish. He’ll try to carry it himself instead of moving the puck. When he gets frustrated, he shows it with his body language. They have to recognize that and have a talk with him. Whether they put him with one of the big guys, he’s got to have a better attitude.”"
It appears that Saad just isn’t in it to win it right now, or his mindset is in a different place. Another scout mirrored this thought process, saying:
"“I think Saad is a guy who plays for a contract. I’m not convinced that he’s a guy who plays for you every night.”"
Either way, there’s a fire being lit underneath him and he’ll need to wake up soon if he doesn’t want to get burnt.
As we covered, the Chicago Blackhawks decided to give Saad the unforsaken white practice jersey on Monday — worn by healthy scratched players during practices. It’s an eyesore and a moment of shame, usually used to shake you to reality.
With that in mind, it’s a very real possibility that Saad could be scratched from the lineup versus the Arizona Coyotes come Thursday night.
We sure as hell didn’t think we’d be seeing Brandon Saad go from a top-six forward role, to a fourth line role, and then a possible healthy scratch in just a few weeks. While having a cap-hit of $6M, its not only daunting on the Blackhawks as a whole, but to the name and spirit the team share.
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The future doesn’t look bright, and Saad is certainly in the doghouse with coach Joel Quenneville. If Saad doesn’t clean up his act, the Blackhawks can’t afford to wait patiently wait for him to regain form (if he can regain form). If worse comes to worse, they might have to take him back to the kennel and see what they can acquire for his current worth.
Believe us, we’d get an even worse trade deal than the one for Panarin this time-around.