Brandon Saad, Blackhawks Reportedly Discussing Contract
When Brandon Saad didn’t turn up for the Blackhawks’ final preseason game against the Washington Capitals on Sunday, some wondered if his run during training camp had come to an end.
As it would turn out, it was quite the opposite. Sources say that Saad was in discussions with the Blackhawks about his entry level contract, which means that it’s basically a certainty that he will break camp with the team.
Saad dazzled coaches early on, but his play has been steady throughout camp and the preseason. The 2011 draft pick could still go back to juniors, though, as he has a nine game “trial” with the Hawks before they will have to decide whether or not to send him back to Saginaw, or start the clock on his professional career.
Saad played in all but one of the Blackhawks’ preseason games, and has been noticeable in pretty much all of them. His best game came in Chicago’s first meeting with the Caps, in which he notched an assist and the game-winning goal against Washington, on his way to earning “first star” honors.
There’s little doubt that Saad has the size to play in the NHL, as he stands 6’1″ and a touch over 200 lbs, but at just 18, there’s not exactly any hurry to keep him up, unless his play is outstanding in the first nine games. If it is, Saad will be in Chicago to stay, as he’s too young to be sent to Rockford.
Injuries have definitely made life easier for Saad to make the NHL roster. Ben Smith and Viktor Stalberg were both knocked out of last Wednesday’s tilt with the Detroit Red Wings, and Dave Bolland hasn’t practice since then, either. Patrick Sharp is expected to be in the lineup on opening night after an emergency appendectomy, but his status still has yet to be confirmed.
Once Saad is officially a member of the Hawks, for at least nine games, it becomes a matter of where he will play. Assuming Sharp is ready to go by Friday, there will likely be one spot left in the top six, where Saad has been playing for much of the preseason. A line with Sharp and Jonathan Toews wouldn’t come as a great surprise.
NHL rosters have to be finalized on Wednesday, meaning a deal should be done within the next couple days for an entry level deal for Saad. Assuming all that gets squared away by Monday or Tuesday, we should see Saad in the lineup in some capacity on Friday night, against Dallas.