Pittsburgh native Saad among three finalists for NHL's Calder Trophy
Pittsburgh native Brandon Saad has enjoyed quite a season for the Chicago Blackhawks. The rookie was rewarded for it Monday.
Saad, one of the pivotal players for the high-flying Blackhawks, was named one of three finalists for the Calder Trophy, awarded annually to the NHL's best rookie.
The other finalists are Florida winger Jonathan Huberdeau and Montreal winger Brandon Gallagher. The trio beat out the high-scoring and highly touted Edmonton duo of forward Nail Yakupov, the first overall pick in the 2012 draft, and defenseman Justin Schultz.
Saad was a second-round pick in 2011. At one time he was considered a top-five pick in his draft year, but a groin injury during his 2010-11 campaign with the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League contributed to Saad's stock falling.
The Blackhawks were happy to take him in the second round, and now Saad plays on Chicago's top line with stars Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, both of whom have stated that they are delighted to have Saad as their permanent winger.
“This means a lot to me,” Saad said Monday. “It's an honor to be mentioned in this. It really is exciting to be a part of.”
Saad produced 10 goals and 27 points in 46 games with the Blackhawks. He started the season slowly but was terrific down the stretch. Saad had 22 points during his final 25 games.
The rookie was also strong defensively, finishing with a plus-17 mark while also becoming a member of Chicago's penalty killing unit.
Huberdeau played for a Florida team that did not qualify for the postseason. Gallagher played an important role in leading the surprising Canadiens to the playoffs. Saad, meanwhile, fit in quickly with a team that is filled with stars.
He isn't sure if skating on a line with Toews and Hossa will hurt his chances of claiming the award.
“That's a tough question,” Saad said. “Either way, that's for people to decide. It's out of my control. I really am happy to be nominated.”