The Chicago Blackhawks have a busy summer ahead of them, with contract discussions with franchise cornerstones Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane looming large. Stan Bowman has made it clear that the team will do whatever it takes to retain the two. In all the hubbub about those two, Brandon Saad — another Blackhawk in need of a contract extension — has seen his name fly under the radar.
Saad’s contract runs out following the 2014-15 NHL season, just like those of Toews and Kane. His current entry-level deal carries just a $764,167 hit against the salary cap, a bargain for a player of his caliber. Toews and Kane are the big names, but keeping Saad on the roster is almost as important; his presence on the third line of this year’s team is a big reason why Chicago can boast that it has some of the best depth at forward in the league.
The Blackhawks’ dicey salary cap situation makes signing Saad harder than it sounds at face value. Even with his recent scoring slump, it is difficult to see Saad settling for anything less than $4 million annually. A slew of big contracts are already on Chicago’s books as it is; Toews, Kane, Corey Crawford, Bryan Bickell, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson eat up an enormous portion of Chicago’s cap space.
Nevertheless, the Blackhawks need to find a way to fit Saad’s new deal into the mix. He reminds many experts of a young Hossa and is not a player the franchise should pinch pennies over.