Brandon Saad looking to regain spot on Blackhawks' top line: 'That’s something that I think I’m capable of'

Brandon Saad looking to regain spot on Blackhawks' top line: 'That’s something that I think I’m capable of'

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.

Blackhawks injury updates: Drake Caggiula placed in concussion protocol for second time in a year

Blackhawks injury updates: Drake Caggiula placed in concussion protocol for second time in a year

LAS VEGAS — The Blackhawks announced Wednesday morning that Drake Caggiula will not play against the Vegas Golden Knights because of what they initially believed was an illness. But after further evaluation, the medical staff has placed the 25-year-old winger in concussion protocol.

"Just want to clarify," head coach Jeremy Colliton said. "He wasn’t feeling well this morning, now the doctors have evaluated him, we’re going to put him in concussion protocol. Obviously that changes things a little bit."

It's the second time in the calendar year Caggiula has been sidelined because of a concussion. He missed 13 games last season, suffering the injury on Feb. 22 against the Anaheim Ducks.

It's unclear what may have happened this time around and when it occurred, but the Blackhawks are playing it safe, as they should.

"There are some symptoms," Colliton said, "so we want to be sure."

Caggiula has four points (one goal, three assists) in 15 games this season. He promoted to the first line during Tuesday's practice, so it's unfortunate timing for both Caggiula and the Blackhawks, who are 2-0-1 in their last three games.

Connor Murphy on track to return Saturday

One day after practicing for the first time since reaggravating a groin injury on Oct. 22, Murphy traveled with the Blackhawks to Vegas and is on track to return Saturday against the Nashville Predators, which is when he's eligible to come off long-term injured reserve.

"It looks good," Colliton said. "I think when he comes off, we’ll make an evaluation, we’ll see what our lineup looks like hopefully. But I don’t think there’s much point in making that call until game day."

With Murphy set to return soon, the Blackhawks must make a corresponding move to become cap compliant, even though they have one spot open on their 23-man roster. As of Wednesday, the Blackhawks have $2,979,958 in cap space, according to Cap Friendly. Murphy's remaining daily cap hit of $2,980,645 barely exceeds that.

Adam Boqvist is the obvious candidate to be reassigned to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League, but not because of performance-based reasons. It just wouldn't make sense for the Blackhawks to carry eight defensemen and stunt his growth by rotating him in and out of the lineup.

Corey Crawford shakes off injury scare

There was a mini injury scare during Wednesday's morning skate in Vegas. Crawford tried making a save from right to left and hyperextended his left leg on the post. He stayed down for a few seconds then removed himself from the crease to collect himself but stayed on the ice for the remainder of the skate.

Crawford told NBC Sports Chicago afterwards that he's fine and will make his scheduled start against the Golden Knights. He is 1-0-2 with a .929 save percentage in three starts this month.

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Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks offense finally opens things up as Patrick Kane starts streaking

USA Today

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks offense finally opens things up as Patrick Kane starts streaking

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis break down the changes made to the Hawks defensive zone coverage (1:50) and Patrick Kane’s current points streak (7:30). They also discuss how most of the players that have been scratched recently have had bounce-back efforts (11:20), as well as the improved play of Erik Gustafsson (18:12) and both special teams units (20:16). Plus, the debut of “Checkpoint Charlie," where Charlie gives us a taste of life on the road and his encounter with Chris Rock’s brother (29:00).

Listen here or in the embedded player below. 


Blackhawks Talk Podcast