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Blue Jackets want leadership from Cup-winner Saad

NHL.com @NHL

The Columbus Blue Jackets are expecting plenty of offense from forward Brandon Saad, who was acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks on June 30 and is likely get a chance to play on the first line.

But coach Todd Richards said Monday that he expects the two-time Stanley Cup winner, who's 22, to provide leadership in the dressing room as well.

"I just want him to come in here and be Brandon Saad, first and foremost," Richards told the Blue Jackets website. "There are things he can add to this team on the ice in game situations and practice, but there's also a lot he can bring to our room. A winning attitude, confidence, knowing that you've won and know what it takes. There will be some leadership there.

"We know what type of player he is; he's an honest, hard-working player with a lot of speed and he can finish plays. He was on a great team, and he's going to come in here and make this team better, there's no doubt in my mind."

Saad is coming off his best NHL season; he scored 23 goals and finished with 52 points for Chicago in 2014-15, then had eight goals and 11 points during the Blackhawks' run to the Stanley Cup for the third time in six seasons. Saad, who was also a member of Chicago's Cup-winning team in 2013, is skating with local NHL players at the Pittsburgh Penguins' new training base and is expected to arrive in Columbus in early September to prepare for camp.

Despite a season-ending 12-0-1 run, the Blue Jackets missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season because of a poor start. The fast finish and the trade that brought Saad to Columbus have Richards eager to get underway.

"When you get down here to the arena, you see the players around here, and then read the stuff in the news and the media coverage, it gets you excited," he said. "When there's activity around the rink, noise coming from the locker room, all those things …it gets your juices going and there's real anticipation for the season to get started."

Richards doesn't feel expectations are any higher for the Blue Jackets this season, who made the playoffs in 2013-14 before missing the postseason last year.

"It doesn't change our expectations internally," he said. "What we want to accomplish hasn't changed and it's the same goal every year; we want to compete for the Stanley Cup.

"When you feel you're a better team, then the expectations and external pressures come into play. For everyone in here, new faces and returning players, the expectation is to win, plain and simple."

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