Chicago Blackhawks: Brandon Saad poised to have big season

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

During the preseason for the Chicago Blackhawks, Brandon Saad has reminded us all of how crucial he is to the success of the team.

Over the course of the last two seasons, the Chicago Blackhawks have primarily received a vast majority of their offensive production from their second line. Opposing teams desperately tried to halt production from the lethal trio of Patrick Kane, Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov – for the most part, they were unsuccessful, at least during the regular season.

But the Blackhawks’ last two unproductive and bitterly disappointing playoff runs forced the organization to make changes – that and the beloved salary cap, of course. Over the summer, general manager Stan Bowman traded Panarin and Tyler Motte to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Brandon Saad and goaltender Anton Forsberg.

Many fans were in a perpetual state of disbelief when the news broke – they were either disgruntled that they traded Panarin or in disbelief that they were able to reacquire a player whose presence had been vehemently missed.

Let’s stick to the optimistic side: Brandon Saad could be in for a huge year for the Chicago Blackhawks.

A Happy Reunion?

Obvious concerns started to swirl around the team with regards to how they would adjust to losing a gifted offensive talent in Panarin. In his two seasons with the Blackhawks, he was phenomenal – 61 goals, 90 assists, and 151 points.

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But the Blackhawks didn’t trade a supremely gifted player for a scrub – they traded him for a two-time Stanley Cup champion who plays exceptionally well at both ends of the ice and is no stranger to offensive production.

Last season with the Blue Jackets, Saad scored 24 goals and added 29 assists for a total of 53 points . Add those numbers to a sterling plus/minus of +23, and Blackhawk fans should be at ease. Also worth noting for those who may have forgotten, he excels both on the power play and penalty kill. That kind of value cannot be overstated.

Furthermore, Saad’s presence on the first line will immensely benefit Jonathan Toews, as his numbers have been slightly down compared to years past.

Next: Can the Blackhawks get back to and win the Stanley Cup?

But if any of that isn’t enough to reassure fans of his value, Saad has been demonstrating his worth during the preseason. With four goals (including three in one game), he looks great, skating well, stopping in front of the net and, of course, scoring. And when he reunites with Toews on the first line, the Chicago Blackhawks could do some scary things offensively.

Expect big things from Saad this season. And you should, because he has high expectations of himself.