To this point in the season, most of the Calder Trophy buzz has centered around Jonathan Huberdeau. And that attention that he has received has absolutely been deserved, especially from a numbers standpoint.
But as the season wears on, it’s getting harder and harder to dismiss the fact that Brandon Saad is simply the best rookie in the league right now. He’s become a sensation with the Chicago Blackhawks, and is beginning to put up the numbers to go along with his incredibly solid play.
Saad was called up to the Hawks at the beginning of the season and spent the first game as a healthy scratch, for Dan Carcillo of all people. As soon as Carcillo went down in the Hawks’ first game of the year, Saad took his spot in the lineup, latched onto it, and has not moved from the top line since.
Playing next to Jonathan Toews, Saad has absolutely thrived. Even if he hasn’t put up the numbers that would garner him serious Calder consideration, he’s performed extremely well. His hustle has helped to draw penalties, he’s shown incredible intelligence, and he’s become an asset on special teams, the penalty kill in particular.
What’s even better is that the points are starting to come along with it. During March, Saad had two separate point streaks of four games. He capped off the month with a three point performance, including two goals, against the Detroit Red Wings. The Man Child, as he’s affectionately referred to by his teammates, was a nightmare for the Red Wings to handle.
He’s currently second in assists among rookies and fourth in points. He’s gaining on the rest of the competition fast. His overall play has indicated that he is the league’s best rookie, with a game far beyond his experience level might indicate. Now that the points are coming along with it, he’s going to get the attention he has deserved as a Calder candidate.