The 26-year-old winger scored only 23 goals last season, but he hit the post or crossbar 13 times.
After an incredibly disappointing 2017-18 campaign, Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad was on the hot seat in Chicago. There were rumors about the Blackhawks possibly trading Saad due to his lack of production for $6 million per year, but nothing ever came to fruition. Saad responded with 47 points (23G, 24A) in 80 games last season, which is still considered underachieving for his cap hit. The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native recorded 47 points as a 21-year-old in his 2nd NHL season. The Blackhawks NEED more out of Brandon Saad in 2019-2020 if they hope to make the postseason.
While Saad may have underwhelmed once again last year, subliminal numbers suggest that he could be due for a bounce-back season. Saad has always posted impressive possession numbers throughout his career, and that continued once again in 2018-19. He registered a 53.1 Corsi-for percentage as well as a 51.3 Fenwick-for percentage, both of which were among the team leaders. Those are below-average numbers for his career, but Saad has been apart of some great teams. Last season the Blackhawks were anything but great. Anything above 50 percent is ideal, and Saad has been well over that in all seven of his NHL seasons.
With impressive possession numbers in each of the last two seasons, it’s a bit of a mystery as to why Saad has produced so little. Unfortunately, flat out bad luck has played a significant role in Saad’s struggles. He hit the post or crossbar 13 times last season, tied for fourth-most in the league. Only Tyler Seguin, Patrik Laine, and Connor McDavid drew iron more times than Saad did, and all three players had far more shots on goal. If half of those shots find the back of the net, Saad’s recording around 30 goals last year. That would make his numbers look a lot better than they currently do.
There were also multiple occasions throughout the year where Saad just couldn’t catch a break. Whether it was missing the net or getting robbed by the opposing goaltender, he was outrageously unlucky. If luck can be on Brandon Saad’s side this season, there’s a solid chance he makes a substantial impact on the team.
Brandon Saad In 2019-20
Exactly what line Brandon Saad will begin the year on is still up in the air. Ideally, Saad’s on the top line playing with Jonathan Toews, but he has struggled in a top-six role since rejoining the Blackhawks. Also, Saad on the third line gives the ‘Hawks tremendous depth. $6 million for a third-liner isn’t great, but they can afford it this year. Saad would give the bottom six a boost offensively without sacrificing any defense.
With the current logjam of forwards that can fit anywhere in the lineup, the Blackhawks have some tough decisions to make in the coming months. Players like Brandon Saad, Andrew Shaw, Alexander Nylander, Drake Caggiula, Dominik Kubalik, and the un-signed Brendan Perlini could start the season on any line. Only Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Dylan Strome, and Alex DeBrincat have locked in a top-six spot. Saad figures to be the first player of the bunch to get a look on the top line, but he NEEDS to prove that he’s a top-six forward. Saad cannot begin this season with an eight-game goalless drought like he did last year. The pressure is on for Saad to perform well, but with a bit of luck, there’s a strong chance he returns to old form in 2019-20.
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