As the purveyor of all things nostalgia here at SCH, I’ve been spending much of the last few months diving into some of the highlights from the Chicago Blackhawks recent past. And a lot of those highlights, especially following the most recent lockout, have involved one particular player — one who I’ll be keeping a close eye on with (finally) training camp opening on Friday. One homegrown talent who slipped to the Hawks in the second round. One forward who is formerly a former Hawk.
I can’t wait to watch Brandon Saad play for the Hawks again.
Perhaps you didn’t realize how many different parts of hockey there are at which Saad excels. Perhaps you just forgot during his two-year stint with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
You want speed? Saad’s got speed.
When Saad got the puck before that goal, he had two defenders ahead of him and one right on his back. One defender hilariously tripped, while the other were like minivans trying to catch the Lamborghini that was Saad on that play. But my favorite part of that goal was, just before deking past Frederik Andersen, he lifts the stick of a diving Ryan Kesler to thwart his poke check attempt. That was the last chance anyone had to stop Saad.
You want an accurate shot? Saad’s got an accurate shot.
The only part of Saad that was in front of the goalline on this attempt was his stick blade. It’s an impossible shot from an impossible angle, and it’s in Game 7 of a Western Conference Final. And it was no problem for Saad.
You want highlight-reel plays? Saad’s got highlight-reel plays.
There’s nothing else I can add to this goal, so just watch it about 25 more times.
Saad’s just a really good hockey player. The combination of size (6’1, 206 pounds) speed (see above) and hands (see above) that’s rare to find in one player. He’s driven possession (most recently 54.8 CF% in Columbus, 6.4% above the team rate) wherever he’s gone, and he contributes at even strength, on the power play and on the penalty kill. For a team that looked old, slow, and one-dimensional in its most recent playoff exit, Saad brings youth, speed, and just about every hockey tool you’d want in a player.
And he’s under contract for four more years at a $6 million cap hit.
And he’s only 24 years old.
I can’t wait.