Blackhawks: Brandon Saad is the most improved player of 2020

Brandon Saad, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Brandon Saad, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Going into the 2019-20 season, I predicted a big season from Brandon Saad. Even though he was injured, he delivered on the ice for the Chicago Blackhawks.

My expectations for Brandon Saad this season were for him to scored 30 goals and for him to have 30 assists. In his 58 games played, he scored 21 times, with just 12 assists. He was the most improved player for the Chicago Blackhawks in 2020.

If Saad wasn’t injured this season, the 30 goal mark was very possible. Chances are, he could have scored 30-35 goals, and assisted on 15-20.

Even though he was injured this season, Saad still improved from his last two seasons. Since the season isn’t fully over yet, and he didn’t play a full 82 games, I will use shooting percentage and an average of what a full 82 game season would have looked from Saad.

In 2019-20, Saad scored on 15% of his shots. That is a career-high by 3.1%. This was also the first time since 2015 he had a positive plus/minus in a Blackhawks’ jersey. Saad averaged scoring .36 goals per night, which would add up to 29.52 goals in an 82 game season. If we round-up, he hits 30 goals for the second time in his career.

When it comes to assists, Saad averaged .21 assists per night, which would give him 17.22 in an 82 game season.

So, adding 29.52 and 17.22 together gives Saad 46.74 points, or 47 if it’s rounded up. He would have scored the 30 goals I predicted, but he would have stayed the course with a career-low 17 assists.

So, how was Saad an improved player if 47 points were the same amount as last season?

That is a great question. Saad became more aggressive this season and was better on his edges since his return. He was on his way for a career-high in hits, takeaways, and penalty minutes. He became more aggressive with his shot too. Instead of being more pass-first as years prior, he looked more confident on the ice.

Now, Saad can either build from this or regress next season. Missing the playoffs for a third straight season should fire up the veterans, like Saad, who has won two Stanley Cups with the Blackhawks.

A healthy Saad can help beef up the bottom-six forwards. If Chicago adds more depth in the offseason, Saad could return to a top-six role and play with either Patrick Kane on Jonathan Toews. Both players would help Saad improve.

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Either way, I am proud of the success Saad had this season. At 27 years old, there is still room for improvement. Let’s see where he goes from here.