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All raves: Brandon Saad might stick with Blackhawks all season

Updated: November 15, 2011 10:06AM

It appears Brandon Saad has made the cut. The 18-year-old from the Pittsburgh area has been so impressive since arriving at ­Blackhawks training camp — all coach Joel Quenneville does is rave about him — that he even earned himself a day off.

Saad played in the first six exhibition games but got to rest Sunday as the Hawks wrapped up preseason play against the Capitals in Washington.

“We figured if we’re going to start with him, we wanted to give him a break,” Quenneville told reporters in Washington. “He’s put himself in a pretty good spot.”

General manager Stan ­Bowman still needs to sign Saad, the 43rd overall pick in the draft in June, to his three-year, entry-level deal. After that, Saad can play up to nine games with the Hawks before ­being sent to his junior team without burning a year off his deal.

Of course, if he continues to stand out, Saad could stick around for the rest of the season. Because he is 18, Saad can’t be sent to the Rockford IceHogs.

All the Hawks have taken notice of Saad, who handled playing against some of the Pittsburgh Penguins regulars fairly well Friday.

“He’s been very impressive,” Patrick Sharp said. “You look at his age, and he’s out here playing alongside Jonathan [Toews]. He’s definitely got the confidence for a young kid. He’s made an impression. The coaches, scouts and the organization must be really high on him if he’s still here pushing for a spot.”

Good news

According to Quenneville, Ben Smith (concussion) might be able to participate in practice this week. Smith has been resting since enduring a shoulder-to-head hit from Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith (suspended eight total games) on Wednesday.

Dave Bolland (non-serious upper-body injury) also is expected to return to practice this week after sitting out the last two ­preseason games.

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