Brandon Saad shines with the ‘Hawks

By Sam Bauman

Coming into the season no one really knew who Brandon Saad was.

The 20-year-old player wasn’t on the opening day roster. After Daniel Carcillo was injured in the first game the Blackhawks called up Saad to take his place on the first line, a spot he has held ever since.

When Saad first started playing this season he didn’t score much, but he caught the attention of the team and the fans through his hustle and grity. Through his first 18 games Saad tallied only three points. Since then, Saad has tallied 20 points in 19 games. Saad’s game has been evolving greatly over this time as the majority of his points until the March 31 game against Detroit were from assists. At the time Saad had only four goals to go along with 12 assists. He went on to tally two goals that night, and then went on to post a goal in three out of the next four games bringing his total up to nine goals.

This production has come at the most opportune time for the Hawks. The Hawks were without Marian Hossa from March 6 until April 4 and have also been without Patrick Sharp since he was injured on March 7. The loss of two star players often means other roleplayers must step up to fill the void, something Saad helped with during this time. The majority of Saad’s points have come without the two stars in the lineup, and they helped soften the blow of losing the two.

The loss of Hossa for a time could be seen as a benefit to Saad and the Hawks. With Hossa out of the lineup, Saad and Jonathan Toews developed a very cohesive playing relationship. Out of Saad’s nine goals, Toews assisted on eight. It has been valuable for Saad to play with Toews, as Toews was in Saad’s same position just a few years ago. Like Saad, Toews also played his first full season when he was 19 and about to turn 20. When Toews was named the Blackhawks’ captain he was the youngest player in the league to ever become a captain. The pairing of Saad with Toews has helped ease Saad into the league and has also created a cohesive tandem to go along with Hossa on the Blackhawks’ top line.

Saad has gone from an unknown into an integral piece of this year’s Blackhawks team.