Brandon Saad, LW Saginaw Spirit (OHL)
Born: October 27, 1992 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Strengths: Long, fluid stride. Powerful skater who isn't all that agile, but gets a big head of steam up to get himself into scoring position and convert breakaways. Can really handle the puck and has a hard, heavy shot that he can really rip- an NHL caliber release on it already. Pinpoint shooter who can pick the corners. Creates time and space for himself- creative scorer and playmaker. Physically developing ahead of the power curve- already pushing 210 pounds and strong along the walls and in front of the net. Hard stick; uses his frame effectively to protect the puck and maintain possession on the cycle. Has scorer's mindset and the natural feel for the game to get it done offensively when playing with confidence and on top of his game. Solid two-way player who understands his defensive responsibilities and will get even better as he matures.
Weaknesses: Inconsistent; looked every bit the top draft candidate early in the season with 20 goals in 30 games, but really tailed off badly during the dog days of winter, generating doubts. A north-south player- not particularly agile or able to excel in an uptempo setting. Goes long stretches where he's uninvolved physically- needs to make the big hit early or generate a prime scoring chance or else runs the risk of not being much of a factor. Not as physical as scouts would like- you see flashes of it, but most would like to see an edgier disposition.
Saad highlights vs Belleville, Oct. 2010 (TV Cogeco via NHL Draft Video)
Style compares to: James van Riemsdyk
Draft prediction: At one time considered a lock for top-5, now could fall out of the top-20. Projection guy who will require a team to base a decision on what he showed a year ago with the U.S. NTDP and strong performance at the 2010 World Under-18s, plus first part of the 2010-11 OHL season. As it stands, a team isn't likely to gamble all that early because of the concerns, but once you get beyond 20, Saad could end up being an excellent value pick. There are whispers that he was in a bad situation in Saginaw, which contributed to his tailspin. He's a better player than he showed this season and it wouldn't surprise to see the hometown Penguins take a stab at him if he's available.
Projection: Top-six power winger with 30+ goal upside. Saad's stock is down right now, but he has the tools to rebound and become an effective NHLer.
Background: Born in Pittsburgh but raised in Gibsonia, Pa. suburb. Is of Syrian descent on his father's side of the family. Came up through same developmental program (Hornets) as fellow draft prospects John Gibson and J.T. Miller. Played for Mahoning Valley of the NAHL before jumping to USHL with the U.S. NTDP in 2009-10. Scored 29 goals and 58 points for U.S. NTDP Under-18 Team a year ago. Posted 27-28-55 stats line in 59 games with the OHL's Saginaw Spirit this season. Won gold medal with U.S. Under-18 Team in Belarus in 2010. Central Scouting's 19th-ranked North American Skater on final list, down from 8 at midterm. Favorite team growing up: Pittsburgh Penguins Favorite players: Jaromir Jagr, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin
If Saad had his own soundtrack it would be: "New Low"- Middle Class Rut
“Brandon is the most well-rounded prospect I’ve coached, or even seen. He pretty much can do it all. He’s very dominant physically, does a very good job defensively, wins battles, and, for a big man (6-foot-2, 195 pounds), has unbelievable agility.”- Mahoning Valley Phantoms (NAHL) head coach Bob Mainhardt to NAHL.com; April, 2009 Full story here.
“He's a great skater, playmaker, has good hockey sense and has that goal scoring ability you look for."- NHL scout to B2011DW; August 2010 Full story here
"I don't know how it happens, but Saad actually looks like he's gotten slower. He's regressed. I try to give him the benefit of the doubt and all, but that's what I saw this year and it's definitely not a good thing."- NHL scout to B2011DW; May, 2011 Full story here
“Brandon has very good speed and agility and that makes him dangerous, he’s solid on his skates and fights through checks very well. He plays a solid two-way game and is very responsible defensively.”- NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards to NHL.com, Apr-May, 2011
Interview with Brandon Saad courtesy Hockey Independent
The Good Point Interview with Brandon Saad, May 19 2011