The Chicago Blackhawks see Brandon Saad as a member of their team for years to come, even with his restricted free agent status this summer. General manager Stan Bowman talked about the 22-year-old forward's long-term future with Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune on Sunday, and affirmed the team's plans for a long-term contract.
"He's emerged as a guy coaches trust, so I would think he's going to play an even bigger role next year." said Bowman. "He's ready for that. He'll be 23 and he'll have a couple of years of solid NHL experience under his belt. He's ready for taking that next step to being a featured guy.
"We'll get him signed."
Saad made $832,500 off his entry level contract this season and is set for a huge raise after career highs in goals (23) and assists (29) while playing in every game for the Hawks. He's one of the cornerstones of the team's roster and an unlikely victim of the upcoming cap purge that'll impact the club after the postseason.
Saad leaving would also be costly to another team. In order for another team to acquire his services, an offer sheet would have to be extended. If Saad were to leave for another team, the Hawks would receive compensatory draft picks given Saad's RFA status. It doesn't sound like Bowman will let it get to that, however.
"I don't worry about that," Bowman said. "He's a big part of this and he's going to continue to be."
Saad has no plans of leaving, either.
"I want to end up in Chicago for sure," he said. "They've treated me nothing but great here."
Saad was drafted in the second round of the 2011 NHL Draft after one season with the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League. Two years later he was a mainstay on the top line with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, and a key contributor to the Hawks winning their second Stanley Cup in four years.
This postseason, Saad has notched four goals and six points in 14 games, including a short-handed tally and two helpers during the Hawks' 5-4 victory against the Anaheim Ducks in Game 4 on Saturday night.
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