Name: Brandon Saad
2010-2011 team: Saginaw Spirit(OHL)
2010-2011 stats: 59 games, 27 goals, 28 assists, 55 points
Because he established himself as one of the best US-born prospects in his birth year at such a young age, Brandon Saad feels like he should be a 5-year NHL veteran by now rather than just heading into his draft year. After playing AAA hockey in the Pittsburgh Hornets organization, Saad made a bit of an unconventional choice to play with his older brother George for the Mahoning Valley Phantoms of the NAHL as one of the youngest players in the league. After a successful season with the Phantoms, he moved on to play for the US NTDP program, where he helped the '92s win a world championship. Having not graduated from high school due to his late birthdate, Saad chose to play for the Saginaw Spirit of the OHL for his draft year, rather than returning to the NTDP(and not playing in international tournaments a la Jimmy Hayes) or playing an extra year in the USHL.
Saad showed solid defensive abilities with the US NTDP, but his overall style of play is that of a pure offensive winger. He's a decent skater for his size, though his feet can look a little heavy at times. He's got great offensive instincts and nice hands that make him a consistent threat in the offensive zone.
Links of Interest:
Pittsburgh Kid Discusses NHL Dream-Hockey Independent- January 2011
NHL Draft Prospect No. 19 Brandon Saad- Alan Bass- May 2011
Bruins Draft Watch: Brandon Saad- Kirk Luedeke- June 2011
August 2007: "Brandon Saad(Pittsburgh Hornets): A big, solid forward that skates really hard. An early front-runner for best forward in 2011."
September 2007: "Brandon Saad, Forward, Pittsburgh Hornets U18-Didn’t blow me away, but it’s important to remember that he’s a ’92 birthday playing against ‘91s, ‘90s, and ‘89s, and I think it’s harder for an underage forward to stand out than an underage defenseman. He should be very good in the future."
November 2010: "Brandon Saad- Saad has been given a lot of hype as a potential first round, maybe even top ten draft pick. Like the rest of his team, Wednesday certainly wasn't his night. He had two great scoring chances in the slot, one of which went wide, and one that got fired straight into the goalie's chest, and otherwise, he wasn't that noticeable. I've seen enough of him to know he's much better than that, but he struggled here. He'll maybe get some consideration for the US World Junior team, but I had him on the outside looking in, and tonight did nothing to change that opinion. Perhaps if the US loses a lot of eligible players in the AHL--D'Amigo, Morin, Palmieri--Saad might get a look, but for now, I think there's better options out there for some holes on the lower lines."
The year in the OHL didn't do much to help Saad's draft stock in the same way it did for other late-birthdate NTDPers like Pat Kane and Peter Mueller. After a hot start to the season, Saad's stock declined a little when he didn't make the US World Junior team and his production slowed in the second half of the season. Still, scorers like Saad are hard to find, and with his abilities, he likely won't fall any farther than the middle of the first round. Saad is far from a sure thing, but he has the potential to end up as a scoring winger on a team's first or second line.