Stock of Pittsburgh native Saad on rise
By Josh Yohe
Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2012, 12:30 a.m.
One year later, the biggest name of the Big Four is asserting himself again.
Brandon Saad watched while two other local products were surprisingly selected before him in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, then promptly made his NHL debut only four months later. Still, Saad isn't satisfied.
“I'm not there yet,” Saad said. “I'm not where I want to be. Not even close, honestly.”
Saad used a spectacular training camp and some serious chemistry with star center Jonathan Toews to claim a spot on Chicago's opening night roster at age 18. He played in Chicago for a couple of games before being returned to Saginaw, where he promptly lit up the Ontario Hockey League with 76 points in 44 games.
Hardly boastful, Saad admitted something this June that he let slide a year ago.
Indeed, there was a chip on his shoulder.
“It did motivate me,” he said, referring to his surprising dip to the second round.
Two of his friends from Pittsburgh — forward J.T. Miller and goalie John Gibson — were drafted ahead of Saad. Vincent Trocheck went in the third round.
Only one year earlier, Saad had been projected as a top-five pick in the 2011 draft. He hardly disappointed during the 2010-11 season — Saad produced a point per game in Saginaw despite playing much of the season with a bad groin — yet found himself sliding to the middle of the first round in most mock drafts at this point last year.
And then, Saad was forced to wait until midway through the second round before the Blackhawks called his name. Arguably the best prospect to ever come from Western Pennsylvania had to watch two other players from his region get selected before his name was called.
“I'd be lying if I said it didn't do that (put a chip on his shoulder),” Saad said. “But, when you're slipping a little bit like I did, you realize you have work to do. It was disappointing, but I was still happy to be drafted. And then I went to work.”
Did he ever.
Despite being drafted by an organization with a number of gifted forwards, Saad made the opening night roster.
Then, after the organization decided to let his game mature in Saginaw, an injury to star forward Marian Hossa in the postseason necessitated a lineup change.
Enter Saad, who didn't score a goal in the playoffs against Phoenix. He never looked out of place, either.
“It was so exciting to be a part of that atmosphere,” Saad said. “But, to be honest, I didn't feel uncomfortable, even in the playoff games. I actually felt comfortable out there. It was awesome, a real dream come true.”
Gibson is poised to become Anaheim's future goaltender. In his first OHL season, he thrived for Kitchener, producing eye-popping totals. He went 21-10 with a 2.75 GAA and a .928 save percentage.
“I'm always keeping track of what he's up to,” Saad said.
Keeping track of Saad could be pretty interesting later this year.
He wants to make the NHL for good this fall.
“It's the plan,” he said. “Last year, it was a long shot, but my attitude then was that I wanted to make the team. It's tough because it's a great team in Chicago. But I'm going to try.”
Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-664-9161, Ext. 1975.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins’ Neal suspended five games for Marchand hit
- Penguins notebook: Dumoulin gets his chance
- Penguins players are not out looking for fights
- Young defensemen lift Penguins to win
- Baby Penguins notebook: Goaltenders find their places in system
- Penguins notebook: Sill thrives on penalty kill
- Penguins notebook: Injury keeps Malkin out against Sharks