Injury to Marian Hossa might give young Brandon Saad a shot at playoffs
BY ADAM L. JAHNS email@example.com April 19, 2012 12:09AM
Updated: May 21, 2012 8:47AM
Brandon Saad, arguably the Blackhawks’ best prospect, had his Ontario Hockey League playoff run to worry about, but he was keeping tabs on what the team that drafted him in the second round in 2011 was doing too.
The 19-year-old knew all about Phoenix Coyotes’ agitator Raffi Torres’ illegal knockout blow to Marian Hossa in Game 3.
“It’s a questionable hit,” Saad said Wednesday. “It’s never good to see a player like that, one of the best in the league and on the team who helps out a lot, [hurt]. It’s unfortunate for the team and for him.”
The loss of Hossa and Andrew Shaw’s three-game suspension has opened the door for Saad to get another shot with the Hawks. Coach Joel Quenneville said there’s “a good chance” he plays in Game 4 on Thursday.
There’s no replacing Hossa, who plays in every situation and has a Hall of Fame resume. Saad should get a chance to play in a key role, possibly with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.
“Playoff hockey would be awesome to be a part of,” Saad said.
Saad made the Hawks out of training camp, playing only in two games after signing his three-year, entry-level deal. He went back to the Saginaw Spirit of the OHL and amassed 76 points in 44 games (1.73 points per game average).
With Saad getting a chance over more-experienced prospects, it’s obvious how high the Hawks are on him. He’s got a quick, solid shot, an NHL-ready body (6-2, 206 pounds) and moves well.
The Hawks aren’t expecting too much from him, but Ben Smith was able to make an impact last postseason when given the chance.
“We know what [Saad] can do offensively,” Quenneville said. “He gives us some nice assets and [it’s a] nice opportunity to have some skill. He can complement some guys with skill.”
Shaw checks in
After serving the first game of his three-game suspension for hitting Coyotes goalie Mike Smith, Shaw said he won’t change his style of play because of what he’s going through. He just knows he has to be more cautious around goalies.
“Some guys may come after me or not, but I’m just going to stick to my game and focus on what I do best,” Shaw said. “It’s how I’ve always played. Those accidents happen once and a while. I’m not going to let it change my game.”