With the United States Olympic Hockey Team being named today, the anticipation and speculation all came to a brief, climactic, end. It was clear, however, that with such a talented team set on beating Team Canada and capturing a goal medal, some questionable snubs would have to be made.
One such player that just missed the cut was 21 year old Chicago Blackhawks forward, Brandon Saad. Already a Stanley Cup champion, Saad is an incredible two-way forward who ranks among the top twenty young players in the league, and is comfortable on either the left or right wing.
To date, Saad has found a home as the most talented part of the Chicago Blackhawks’ third line. In 42 games, despite not being in the top six, Saad has 30 points and a +16 rating. As one of the most flexible players on the Blackhawks, he has yet to show a genuine flaw in his game.
So why was Saad not among the 14 forwards selected to travel to Sochi? Well, for starters, depth is a major issue. Former Olympian and current Ottawa Senators sniper Bobby Ryan missed the cut, and the last two forwards named were Blake Wheeler and T.J Oshie. Both Wheeler and Oshie were on the bubble with Saad, but per ESPN’s Scott Burnside, got the nod on a coaching decision.
Saad has plenty of development to experience, which will occur when he moved into the Chicago Blackhawks top six in the near future. But for now, having Saad on the outside looking in, ready to step in if an injury occurs, is a problem that USA Hockey should be perfectly fine with.
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