Who would have thought that the Chicago Blackhawks would re-acquire Brandon Saad someday? Well, it happened last Friday morning on the day of the NHL Draft in Chicago. Blackhawks General Manager Stan Bowman threw a bombshell around the NHL by acquiring Saad from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Artemi Panarin.
Saad was a fan favorite in Chicago and he gets to warm up the hearts of the fans once again. Captain Jonathan Toews played some of his best hockey with the American wiger on his left side. The team won two Stanley Cups with the Saad and Toews duo. Saad was traded in the summer of 2015 because he and the Blackhawks could not come to terms on a new contract.
Since Saad’s departure, Toews’ offensive production had dipped significantly from 68 and 66 points in 2014 and 2015 to just 58 points the last two seasons, with 7 fewer goals scored. Toews also had 17 and 21 points in the 2014 and 2015 playoffs, compared to just 6 and 2 points the last two years. That is a major impact to the overall contribution of the team.
With Saad’s arrival, expect an uptick on Toews’ goals and points total to about 60-70 points. Head Coach Joel Quenneville said, “We got it in our minds that (Saad) would be a perfect fit on Johnny’s left side”. (Chicago Tribune). Saad not only helps out there, but he is also a solid two-way player that can help out in the defensive zone. He forechecks hard, but he also backchecks effectively as well. A forward backchecking in the defensive zone is vital because it takes pressure off of the defencemen and it enhances the probability of a goal not being scored.
Panarin did not bring the same assets that Saad does. Yes, Panarin was a dynamic 30 goal scorer and was magical with Patrick Kane, but he did not help out in the defensive zone and did not deliver in the playoffs the last two years. This hurt the Blackhawks as they lost in 7 games to the St Louis Blues in 2016 and were swept by the Nashville Predators this year. Saad is a playoff performer who scored big goals in the two Cup runs and that is also one of the main reasons why he was brought back. Panarin’s contract extension was only for two years and then he was set to become a UFA. Saad’s under contract, on the other hand, for the next four years so it buys the Blackhawks two more years of production, which is always nice. (CapFriendly).
Saad is only 24 years old and it is quite possible that Saad can score consecutive 30 goal season for years to come. He is back to where he belongs. He is coming back home.