It feels like current Chicago Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad has been around forever. An eight-year NHL veteran, the native of Pittsburgh has been relatively consistent throughout his career, yet for some reason, the former second-round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks is still awaiting a big breakout regular season.
Being a grizzled veteran might help explain his otherwise flat offensive numbers, but Saad is still only 27. This past season was among his worst. With 21 goals and 12 assists (33) over 58 games in 2020, Saad was on pace for just over a half point per game pace.
Saad, a former member of the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit, was selected by Chicago in the 2011 NHL Draft. After fast-tracking through the Blackhawks system, he quickly found himself a regular spot on the 2013 Stanley Cup championship team. Of course, the Blackhawks would go on to win another Stanley Cup in 2015, meaning Saad collected two rings in his first three professional playoff seasons.
Chicago, a powerhouse during the three years between 2013-15, had long playoff runs each season. Notably, Saad’s 2014 playoffs were his best – scoring six goals and adding 10 assists over 19 games before the Blackhawks were eliminated by the Los Angeles Kings.
No doubt, while he’s not viewed in the same light as a Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews or Duncan Keith, Saad has made his mark on the franchise.
No Vacancy in Chicago
Making a two-season stop in Columbus with the Blue Jackets, he did eventually make his way back to an organization who seemingly regretted moving him. But, he may be on the move again.
With $6 million remaining on the last year of his contract, Saad may get squeezed out of Chicago. The team has only $8 million of cap space and the ‘Hawks urgently need to re-sign Corey Crawford or go to market for a starting goaltender. Additionally, the organization also needs to negotiate new contracts with RFA’s Dylan Strome and Dominik Kubalik. The resulting salary constraints could mean Brandon Saad will soon be dealt out of Chicago.
According to recent reports, the speculation is that Brandon Saad is a top-six or bust player. In other words, if Saad does not fit into a teams top-six forward group then he may not be strong enough defensively to play down the depth chart. If that is the perception, then NHL teams may not be willing to pay the full $6-million for a potential liability so the Blackhawks may have to retain a portion of that money depending on the price.
Currently, both the Buffalo Sabres and Ottawa Senators only have four forward contracts heading into the 2020/21 season. Each team also has plenty of cap room space so perhaps Saad could add some interim speed and experience to a youthful Sabre or Senator roster?
Another option for Saad might be in Montreal. Since early September there has been continuous chatter that the Canadiens may be targeting the speedy left winger.
Look for Saad to be on the move sooner than later.
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