Blackhawks: Brandon Saad never filled his role in Chicago

Brandon Saad #20, Marian Hossa #81, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Joanthan Daniel/Getty Images)
Brandon Saad #20, Marian Hossa #81, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Joanthan Daniel/Getty Images) /

When the Chicago Blackhawks reacquired Brandon Saad they were hoping they were getting a replacement for the recently retired Marian Hossa, however, that would turn out to be too much pressure to place on the returning forward.

The summer of 2017 is a postseason that will live in infamy when the Chicago Blackhawks would ship Allstar forward Artemi Panarin to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for dynamic two way forward Brandon Saad.

At the time and upon reflection it was a polarizing deal in which the Blackhawks blew up the dynamic line of Patrick Kane and Panarin to bring in a versatile top-six forward who had more term on his contract for the cash strapped Hawks.

In his return to Chicago, Saad has continued his struggle over the three years since his return while Panarin has skyrocketed into the stratosphere on the NHL. We can go back and forth all day about the validity of the deal but in the end, the Blue Jackets got the better player in the deal but the Blackhawks got the certainty of the Saad contract.

One interesting caveat that is rarely brought up is that just two days before the trade for Saad the Blackhawks announced that Marian Hossa would miss the 2017-2018 season because of a skin disorder, the “gunk”. With Hossa departing the line up for that season, and what would eventually end his career, as well as the middling playoff performances Blackhawks management and fans thought that they needed a little more two-way play in their lineup.

Hence the trade for Saad. In hindsight, should the Blackhawks have made the trade though?

I for years defended the move as one of a necessity for the Blackhawks who were struggling to improve with their cap issues and felt as though they wanted to mix up their chemistry after some playoff struggles. However as the years have gone by it is more and more difficult to defend the move by Stan Bowman, they moved a rising start in the league for a player who was brought back only because he fit a role and because of his familiarity with the Blackhawks system/roster.

While Saad had begun to find his groove once again this season before the break, due to COVID-19, you still need to consider the body of work he has provided over the last three seasons and it just isn’t up to the levels that they needed when they lose a Hall of Fame player like Hossa and trade a rising star like Panarin.

Maybe the sights were set too high for what he could have brought but it was Bowman and management who put him in that situation and unfortunately for him the team began its downfall and he brought over his struggles from Columbus.

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With all that being said, Saad is still a key piece of the puzzle for the Blackhawks, and if they hope to have success when the season resumes Saad will be integral in their series against the Edmonton Oilers.