NHL Playoffs 2012: Is Brandon Saad the Right Guy to Replace Marian Hossa?

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NHL Playoffs 2012: Is Brandon Saad the Right Guy to Replace Marian Hossa?
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

If you haven't seen or heard about the hit Raffi Torres had on Marian Hossa on Tuesday, you must be living under a rock.

Hossa left the ice on a stretcher and was brought to Northwestern Hospital. He left a few hours later under his own power, which is a great sign.

Coach Joel Quenneville ruled Hossa out of the lineup for Game 4 on Thursday night, and instead of using one of the players already on the roster, they decided to call someone up.

The player they decided to call up was rookie Brandon Saad, who was their second-round pick just last summer.

Saad surprised many by making the team out of camp, and after two games was sent back down to the OHL. Normally a player would get sent down to the AHL, but because of his young age that wasn't an option.

In those two games he played about 28 minutes and registered three shots. In 44 OHL games he totaled 34 goals and 42 assists for 76 points. He also totaled 17 points in 12 playoffs games—not bad for someone who won't turn 20 until October.

While those numbers are very impressive, there is a big difference between the NHL and the OHL. Is Saad really ready to jump on that top line and fill the skates of the guy who led the team in assists and total points?

For the Blackhawks' sake, they better hope so.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Physically he might be up for the job. Standing at 6'0" and weighing 202 lbs, he isn't that much smaller than Hossa, and being on a line with Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews will mean he draws a bit less attention.

That fact that Saad is a natural left wing could also be a reason for his call up. With Toews at center and Kane at right wing, it makes a lot of sense to slide the rookie in on that line.

With that being said, can he handle it, and just the speed of the game in general, mentally?

That is the million-dollar question.

It is surprising that they didn't turn to Brandon Pirri, who was an All-Star in the AHL, or Jeremy Morin, who didn't have a great year in the AHL but did impress in a short stint with the Hawks last season.

Maybe they are hoping that Saad can produce just like fellow rookie Andrew Shaw, who was drafted in the fifth round last summer.

For the Hawks' sake, let's hope they made the right call because Thursday is basically a must-win game for them. The idea of returning to Phoenix down 3-1 is not a very appealing scenario. 

Side note: Saad can play in eight games before his contract kicks in. What that means is if the Hawks were to win this series and Saad continues to play this season, then that will count as the first on his rookie three-year deal.

If he does play in those eight games, it will leave many questioning why they didn't let him spend the whole season in Chicago. Maybe he will just fill in until Shaw returns from his suspension.

Regardless, it is something to keep track of as the season continues.

Make sure to follow me on Twitter @dachicagofan and check out my weekly Hawks podcast every Friday on my site The MG Experience.

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