2011 NHL Draft Prospects: No. 19 Brandon Saad
May 27, 2011 1 Comment
When draft time comes around, NHL squads often enjoy selecting a player from their neck of the woods, and that’s no secret. Unfortunately (or fortunately) for the Pittsburgh Penguins, they won’t be drafting high enough to grab Gibsonia, PA native Brandon Saad in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Not to worry, though. The Penguins’ influence has rubbed off on Saad and, in fact, was one of the main reasons why he started playing hockey as a tyke. Although he hadn’t yet been born when the Penguins won their first two Stanley Cups in the early 1990s, Saad says his love of the game started with watching NHL legend Mario Lemieux dance around the ice, and was furthered by other stars through the years, culminating in current NHL superstar Sidney Crosby.
Saad, a 6-foot-1, 208-pound left wing, is rated 19th overall among North American prospects by NHL Central Scouting. Developed partially by the US National Developmental Team, he may be the first American-born player to hear his name called in June. After scoring 26 points in 24 games with the USNTDP in 2009-10, Saad joined the Sagniaw Spirit of the Ontario League and took it by storm, posting 27 goals and 55 points in 59 games.
“I think you can project him to be a 35-goal scorer in the NHL,” said one Eastern Conference scout in an ESPN.com interview. “You go through all the major areas: smarts, skating, desire, size, he’s got it all. He’s capable of going straight to the NHL after the draft.”
Saad has been described as an NHL-capable power forward, and is very coachable. When his USNTDP coach, Kurt Kleinendorst, took away his ice time for poor play, Saad didn’t sulk or make excuses. He understood that he needed to work harder, and did just that.
“He dominates down low below the circles cycling the puck,” said Kyle Woodlief of Red Line Report. “It is very tough to separate him from the puck. He is very strong on his stick and skates.
“When he wants to take the puck down low to cycle it there aren’t too many people who are going to take it from him. He can just drag guys on his back straight to the net. He wins all those one-on-one battles in the corner. He out-muscles guys along the walls. You can’t move him in front of the net.”
In the 2010 NHL Draft, the United States set a record with 11 Americans selected in the first round. However, none of those were selected in the top ten. Saad, although humble, hopes to change that trend.
“That’s a pretty big honor, but nothing that I’d look too much into,” Saad said in an NHL.com interview. “I still have to work hard and play my game. The draft is a big moment in people’s lives and it’ll be something special, but I don’t look at it and focus on it too much.”
Alan Bass, a writer for The Hockey News and THN.com, is the author of The Great Expansion: The Ultimate Risk That Changed The NHL Forever. He has worked for the Philadelphia Flyers’ Fan Development department, going to schools throughout the tri-state area to teach about fitness and the importance of teamwork. He is the General Manager of the Muhlenberg College Division II hockey team as well. You can contact him at Alanbasswriting@aol.com.