Brandon Saad on Blackhawks: 'This is where I want to be'


Brandon Saad on Blackhawks: 'This is where I want to be'

There was no hemming and hawing for Brandon Saad, no talk of what he could be getting with his current contract ending and pending restricted free-agent status.

Instead, it was all about how he could stay with the Blackhawks.

“The money’s going to come and go. But to win championships and play on a great team, that’s what it’s all about,” Saad said. "I’m looking forward to getting something done pretty quick.”

Saad is going to get a nice little payday regardless of where he goes. That payday would definitely be more elsewhere. But the lure of staying with the Blackhawks, who have won three Stanley Cups since 2010, including the last two with Saad, is more of an enticing carrot.

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The Blackhawks have become a model of success in the salary-cap world that was supposed to keep dynasties – or whatever you want to call this – from happening. Staying here and possibly winning more championships appeals to Saad, and he’s willing to take a little less cash to keep winning here.

“They’ve been great to me,” Saad said of the Blackhawks, who selected him in the second round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. “Obviously you play the game to win. This is where I want to be.”

General manager Stan Bowman has been confident that he’ll re-sign the 22-year-old and he reiterated that on Wednesday.

“He’ll be a big part of our group for many years to come. We’ll make it work; that’s not a concern to me,” Bowman said of Saad. “Brandon’s been a big part of this, he’s grown as a player and we want him to continue to grow and take a bigger role next year. I think we’ve seen him emerge over the last couple of seasons. He’s just starting to grow into a big role on our team and that’ll continue for many years to come. We’ll work that out. I have confidence in that, in terms of bringing a player like Brandon back.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

It’s not the first time players have taken less money to stay in Chicago. Bryan Bickell has struggled since signing his four-year, $16-million deal in the summer of 2013 but, considering how he played that 2013 postseason, he likely would’ve gotten more elsewhere. Niklas Hjalmarsson signed his current deal a year before his previous contract ran out and didn’t take that big of a raise to stay with the Blackhawks. At the time Hjalmarsson said, “maybe I could have gotten more [money] somewhere else but I make a lot of money.” The lure of the Blackhawks and the potential to win more here keeps players from testing a market that certainly would pay them more.

The salary cap for 2015-16 will probably end up around $71 million. The Blackhawks will have to do some number crunching again this offseason. Some players will not be re-signed and some will be traded. But Bowman has no intention of letting Saad go, and it doesn’t sound like Saad wants to leave, anyway.

“It’s not about the money,” said Saad. “We love playing the game, and to be in Chicago and be a part of a great team where we get along, it’s a great group of guys and we have a lot of fun. This is the goal, to get something done and be in Chicago.”

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

It was a rare sight to see the Blackhawks in a shootout on Wednesday night.

It was just the second time this season — and first time at the United Center — that the Blackhawks made it past 3-on-3 overtime. 

The last came on Dec. 2, 2017, a 3-2 shootout loss to the Stars in Dallas. On Wednesday night, the Blackhawks were on the other end, beating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in a seven-round shootout. Nick Schmaltz netted the game-winner.

"We'll take it," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought we had a decent game tonight. Overtime not so good, I liked the shootout victory, Fors made some big saves for us particularly as the game got deeper. Our third was OK, I thought our first two were way better, and overtime we gave up some high quality, some bells were rings for a bit there. But it was nice to see the shootout win."

Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist, recording another multi-point game, his 16th of the season.

"I mean we need every point we can get at this point," Kane said. "There's still belief in this locker room. Obviously we need to go on quite a run and have a big record here down the stretch. But take it a game at a time and nice to get two points."

Anton Forsberg was a big reason the Blackhawks even recorded those two points. The 25-year-old netminder stopped 34 of 36 shots and made a handful of big saves down the stretch.

"It was really nice to get a win for sure," Forsberg said. "I would love to have a lot more wins, but right now just gotta look forward and get as many wins as possible."

Added Quenneville: "I think it was good for him to win a game the way he did. Lot of shots were on the line, as we progressed, got deeper, hitting the point first was big for him and for us and then finding a way to get the extra one was a good win."

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?