Brandon Saad wasn’t the Chicago Blackhawks top option on its Stanley Cup winning team, but he didn’t have to be.
Playing with Johnathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Duncan Keith enabled Saad to develop into a consistent contributor for a winning team. However, that is all going to change, as Saad is now expected to be one of the main stars on a hungry Columbus team.
The Columbus Blue Jackets and G.M. Jarmo Kekalainen shocked the NHL world when the they acquired Saad from the Blackhawks. It’s a move that will hopefully catapult the team into the upper echelon of the Metropolitan Division.
It’s also a move that needed to be made to stay competitive. Soon after the team landed Saad, fellow Metro rivals such as Pittsburgh and Washington acquired pieces to fuel their respective rosters. Pittsburgh landed elite goal scorer Phil Kessel, and Washingotn landed USA Hockey hero, T.J. Oshie.
With the addition of Saad, Columbus won’t have any problem matching the offensive firepower of the other members in it’s division, one that already includes superstars Alex Ovechkin (Washington), Sydney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh), and John Tavares, Kyle Okposo (New York Islanders).
The Blue Jackets have just as many weapons at their disposal, including two 70-point players in Nick Foligno and Ryan Johansen. The opportunities and combinations for the Blue Jackets potential scoring lines seems endless.
If the season started today they might look something like this.
The core of the lineup is the team’s first line which features two of the NHL’s premier speedsters in Cam Atkinson and Brandon Saad. However the depth of the team is found on its third and fourth lines, where promising young second-year star, Alexander Wennberg, centers a line with two grizzled NHL veterans, Scott Hartnell and David Clarkson.
The fourth line features recent veteran acquisition, Gregory Campbell, and potentially 2014 1st round pick, Sonny Milano, who has all the tools to be a game-changing NHL goal scorer.
The addition of both Saad and Campbell were necessary as the team lost Artem Anisimov and Mark Letestu during the offseason. However, it’s unlikely that the duo will be heavily missed, because in addition to the two newest acquisitions, the Blue Jackets have a great collection of youth waiting in the wings.
Columbus will likely give Rene Borque, Oliver Bjorkstrand, and Kerby Rychel time with the team’s AHL affiliate in Cleveland. It’s always welcoming to have young and able bodies in your minor league system, and the Blue Jackets have an abundance of that.
While Columbus is extremely deep on offense, some will say they don’t have the defenseman to advance far in the NHL playoffs. However, the team still has promising youngster, Ryan Murray, an extremely efficient power play quarterback in Jack Johnson, and David Savard, who is coming off a career year.
Defense isn’t going to define this Columbus team. Its heart and soul will be the offense, and what the addition of Saad did for the team was give them a proven winner, and playmaker, to add to its already stellar collection of play makers.
You can never have enough depth, and fortunately for Columbus, they have plenty of it.