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What Saad’s Playoffs Tell Us

Brandon Saad is a Calder Trophy nominee this year.  I argue that he is the worst choice for an award nominee this season and I think his playoffs are going a long way toward verifying that.  In the playoffs this season he has been a non-factor.  He has posted only one point and a +/- of zero in over 16 minutes per game.

The narrative for Saad's nomination was that he must be a very good player to have got to play a first line role on a team as good as the first place Chicago Blackhawks.  Looking at statistics it is hard not to notice that he led all the rookies in the league with a +17 +/- rating and his 27 points were four back of the rookie lead.

What is missing from that narrative is an understanding of how Saad "earned" his role as the first line left wing in Chicago.  Chicago has one front line quality left wing in Patrick Sharp.  He missed significant time in the 2012/13 season due to injury and when he played he usually played with Marian Hossa and not with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews on the nominal first line.  Chicago had been auditioning players to fill their first line left wing role.  Bryan Bickell and Andrew Brunette were among the players who were given a chance in 2011/12, but neither was impressive in their role.  The Blackhawks gave an OHL graduate in Brandon Saad a shot and he didn't look out of place.  He wasn't the guy who made the line work.  In fact, he was largely along for the ride, but to his credit he was skilled enough to handle that role for the most part.  When given a tougher job in the playoffs he hasn't been able to keep up.

A shortened season made all of the award selections more difficult because players have not had as much time to differentiate themselves from the pack  Nowhere is this more of a problem than the Calder Trophy.  Players can be affected both negatively and positively by this.  When a player first establishes himself as a good NHLer, other teams will put more effort into shutting him down and some players are never able to have the same success once this happens.  Other players need time to grow into their roles and time ran out soon after they had done so in the shortened season.  Saad is more of the first case.  He won an open position on the Chicago frontline.  Of the choices Chicago had, he may have been their best choice, but that is more a sign that they had no top choices.  The argument that winning a role on Chicago was difficult and proves Saad's worth wasn't true in his case.  It might have been true is he played another position and had to beat out a proven all star for the spot.  There were several better rookies than Saad this year.

Brandon Saad has had a weak playoff after having a rookie year where he posted some good numbers.  His linemates are a big reason for his regular season numbers.  They haven't been able to dominate as well in the playoffs (Toews scored his first playoff goal yesterday) and Saad has failed to be a difference maker on his own.  He was a poor choice for his Calder Trophy nomination.

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Comments

LiteWork's avatar

Nobody is nominated for the awards, there is just voting. And all the awards have already been determined. The voting is done right after the regular season and before the playoffs. What Saad has done in the playoffs is irrelevant.

Posted by LiteWork on 05/27/13 at 01:40 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Of course there are nominees for awards.  The nominees are the top three vote getters.  What happens in the playoffs is always relevant - it leads to the Stanley Cup and that is very important.  It can also show that the voters made a poor choice.  In Saad’s case, the playoffs were not required for that, I think it was clear at the end of the season, but the playoffs really drive the point home.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 05/27/13 at 11:24 AM ET

Avatar

The nominees are the top three vote getters.

No, that makes them finalists.  Nominees are names that are put forward and then voted on.  The finalists for the Calder trophy are the three top vote getters.

Just because you ignorantly refer to them as nominees doesn’t make it so.

http://kuklaskorner.com/hockey/comments/calder-memorial-trophy-finalists-announced

Do you see the NHL refers to them as “finalists” rather than “nominees”?

Do you not read press releases as well as not watching hockey games?

What happens in the playoffs is always relevant

You can’t really be so ignorant as to not understand what LiteWork meant, can you?

Posted by Garth on 05/27/13 at 12:18 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Garth

LiteWork missed the mark from what I said by such a large margin that I thought I would do the same.  I thought he was smart enough to understand it.  He probably is since he didn’t rush in to make the comment that you made.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 05/27/13 at 12:24 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.

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Email: y2kfhl@hotmail.com