Brandon Saad emerged as a breakout star almost immediately in his early days with the Blackhawks. He quickly became a fixture on the top-six and developed unique chemistry on the first line with Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews.
The Blackhawks were hoping Saad's second go-around in Chicago would produce similar results and recapture some of that magic with Toews, who had a revolving door of wingers during the 2016-17 campaign. That hasn't quite happened yet.
Saad had a bounce-back season offensively in 2018-19, but it wasn't until he was moved to the third line when he started to become a more effective player. It's unclear where the Blackhawks envision Saad in the lineup to kick off the 2019-20 season, but the 26-year-old winger is aiming to get back into a top-six role.
"For me it’s just being my best and you want to play as much as possible and help the team win," Saad said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "Obviously it’s the coach’s decision to put you where he thinks helps a team win, but for me, you want to be in that top spot, you want to play the big minutes and you want to get on the ice as much as possible. I’ve always loved playing on top lines and that’s something that I think I’m capable of and that’s what I want to do.”
Saad made the playoffs in each of his first four seasons with the Blackhawks and won two Stanley Cups before he even earned his second NHL contract. After two straight years of missing out on postseason hockey, Saad realizes how lucky he's been to have had that early success and is looking forward to bringing playoff hockey back to Chicago.
“Yeah, it’s definitely been tough," Saad said. "I was so fortunate coming in with winning championships and making the playoffs every year. Now you look back on my career and it seems to be even now from times I’ve even made the playoffs to missing it. Definitely, it’s not fun, but we’re building in the right direction and I think we’re all excited about this upcoming season.”
Check out the interview in the video above.