After a raucous opening day of NHL free agency, day two looks poised to keep the moves coming.
The St. Louis Blues got the ball rolling on Thursday morning, signing forward, Brandon Saad to a five-year deal worth an average annual value of $4.5 million.
The terms of the deal, such as its salary structure and any no-move clauses, have yet to be determined.
Saad is a capable middle-six forward with some offensive pop, the type which doesn’t force him to sacrifice too much in the defensive end. He’s a logical addition to a Blues team that will have lost both Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko by summer’s end, with the hope being that he and fellow newcomer, Pavel Buchnevich can replace the offence that walked out the door.
Saad has been tasked with replacing bygone stars before, albeit to varying results. Now he’ll attempt to do it again.
Still, the 28-year-old is coming off a decent campaign with the Avalanche in which he racked up 15 goals and 24 points in 44 regular-season games, following it up with an impressive playoff showing to the tune of 8 points in 10 games.
Saad’s stat line last year, while encouraging, is somewhat deceiving, however.
Those 15 goals came at the highest rate per sixty minutes of Saad’s entire career, largely thanks to him shooting a whopping 22.1% in 2021 that clocks in at roughly double his career average of 11% and well above his next highest efficiency mark of 15%. Notably, Saad shot that 15% in 2020, the year prior, suggesting that the skilled winger has been riding a wave of uncharacteristic shooting luck for the past two seasons.
Handing big money and term over to a player approaching 30 who just put up a career-high shooting percentage alongside arguably the most offensively blessed supporting cast in the league is a dicey gambit.
Saad is an effective player. That’s without question. But he will be nearly 34 when his contract expires, and, despite benefiting from nearly 24 months of career-best shooting efficiency, hasn’t scored over 50 points since 2016-17.
The Blues clearly needed a scoring winger to fill their holes for next season. It’s the four beyond that that could spell disaster.