When Jonathan Toews hits the ice to start the 2017-18 season, he’ll do so with a familiar face to his left.
The Chicago Blackhawks‘ move to re-acquire winger Brandon Saad wasn’t cheap—they had to send Artemi Panarin to Columbus in return—but it’s expected to pay off in the form of Toews’ point production as the two former linemates are reunited.
“I think a lot of it is going to be, again, playing the same way that I’ve played with Marian Hossa for a number of years,” Toews told Jeff Blair on Sportsnet 590 The FAN Friday morning.
Re-inserting Saad into the lineup should lessen the blow of losing Hossa, who will miss the season as he deals with a progressive skin disorder that has been affecting him for several years.
“Obviously I was always that centreman that seemed to get all the credit for our defensive work and our two-way game but Brandon is one of those guys who plays very similar to Hossa,” Toews said. “He’s a great skater, a great shot, great speed down the wing, incredible work ethic, but one of those guys that competes in the D-zone that as a winger, you probably don’t get as much credit as you deserve.”
Toews is coming off consecutive 58-point seasons, and his 21 goals in 2016-17 was the lowest such total of his career. Saad had similar numbers in his two years with the Blue Jackets, scoring 31 and 24 goals for back-to-back 53-point campaigns.
“It’ll be nice to go out there and just know what to expect and what you’re going to get every single night and get that consistency,” Toews said.
“I think the two of us are going to have a lot of fun, I think we’re looking forward to playing well and playing against other teams’ top lines and D-men but also going out there and creating offence the way we know we can,” he continued. “But again, [head coach] Joel Quenneville likes to change the lines here and there—if that’s what happens, we’ll be ready for whatever, but I think we’ll be looking forward to that opportunity to play together for sure.”