Versatile Saad ready for another role

March, 4, 2014
Mar 4
2:45
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Brandon Saad is no stranger to adjusting this season.

Saad has seen time at left and right wing and even had an experimental period at center for the Chicago Blackhawks. He's played on the first line, second line and third line. He's learned to share the ice with all sorts of players. Adjusting has just become part of his job.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Saad
Paul Bereswill/Getty ImagesBrandon Saad moves back to the top line because of the injury to Marian Hossa.
On Tuesday, Saad will adjust once again. Saad will replace injured Marian Hossa on the right wing on the top line when the Blackhawks face the Colorado Avalanche at the United Center.

"It's a little different game, just getting chemistry," Saad said Tuesday of playing different roles this season. "I think I've played with a ton of different players. For the most part, it's been good. It's not major adjustments out there. We have a lot of skilled players. I'm looking forward to that opportunity tonight."

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville is confident Saad is capable of filling Hossa's void. Saad has some experience on the top line, playing there this season and most of last season at left wing alongside Jonathan Toews and Hossa.

"I think coming off such a strong year in his rookie year I thought the consistency has been in place right from the outset," Quenneville said. "We use him in maybe a different role than where he's comfortable; he's on the right side as well. I don't mind him over there.

"Gives us some versatility. It gives us a presence on a line that is all of a sudden a threat to score and makes people around him on that line very dangerous as well. He seems to adapt to whomever he can play with, kind of like a [Patrick Kane]."

Saad held his own last season, but he also benefited playing on the top line as a rookie. He produced 10 goals and 17 assists in 46 games. He has taken another step in his game this season and has proved to be more consistent no matter who his linemates are, with 18 goals and 23 assists in 62 games. He also has a plus-27 rating, which is tied for second in the NHL.

"I think [I'm] more confident," the 21-year-old Saad said. "You grow as a player going through what I did last year, the success we had as a team. I'm definitely more confident this year, more comfortable out there."

Toews is looking forward to playing with Saad again and has seen growth in him as well.

"He works hard," Toews said. "He's a big body. I always said it last year he was just improving every single game he played.

"I think now he's got that vision. He's got that ability to make the little plays. He understands to keep plays alive and to use the guys you're out there with. Eventually, you're going to score a lot of goals the more you have the puck."
Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.

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