Blackhawks

Blackhawks' Saad keeping nerves under control

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Blackhawks' Saad keeping nerves under control

Coverage of tonight's season opener starts at 7:00 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet.

DALLAS -- Brandon Saad has handled his quick-to-the-NHL odyssey very well this preseason. And that first road night out with the teammates was pretty enjoyable, too.

"We had a good dinner. The travel and all the expenses, it's pretty cool," Saad said with a laugh.

Now the Chicago Blackhawks will see how the rookie wing will handle his regular-season debut.

Saad's parents will be in the American Airlines Center crowd tonight as Saad and the Blackhawks open the season against the Dallas Stars. It's heady stuff for the 18-year-old, but he's handled it well thus far. Having Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp as linemates never hurts, either.

"Being as young as I am and playing with these two guys, it's going to be incredible," said Saad, who added he's been able to keep the nerves pretty calm so far. "There'll be some nerves closer to game time. But once you're out there you just play your game."

Linemate Sharp said "I'm sure there'll be some conversations throughout the game. Jonnny likes to talk and yell and scream if things aren't going well. We'll have advice for him but based on the way he's been playing I think he's ready to go."

Coach Joel Quenneville said he'll keep an eye on his young forward.

"He's with a couple nice guys to play with as well," Quenneville said. "They'll help him along and we'll see how he handles it."

Burish behavior

Former Blackhawks forward Adam Burish (groin) will miss Friday's opener but is hoping to play Saturday night when the Stars and Blackhawks meet again in Chicago. But Burish still couldn't pass up the chance to have fun with his old teammates.

"I could take on Kane with one groin no problem," Burish joked Friday. "I think just trying to hold down that big horse (Marian) Hossa would be a little tougher. But I could take (Patrick) Kane and (Patrick) Sharp with one groin. Im gonna rest up and embarrass them in their own building tomorrow."

Burish had fun talking about Kane playing center but nevertheless thinks his former teammate can play just fine there.

"He better practice his faceoffs a little bit because I remember beating him up in practice a few times," Burish said. "Hell be good though. The thing that hell be good at is just the way he skates. He can skate so good and on the wing, you gotta stop and start a little bit where now hell able to do those big loops and those circles and go back and take it off Duncan Keiths stick and skate all the way up the ice."

Dowell's new digs

Jake Dowell is getting used to his new surroundings in Dallas. He said he didn't know what to expect last summer, and was somewhat surprised that he wasn't a Blackhawk again this year. Dowell was one of the few who would tussle last season; but the Blackhawks let him go and signed gritty veterans Jamal Mayers and Daniel Carcillo.

"I was a little bit surprised, but that's just the decision that was made and they wanted a group of different guys to get in there to bring the toughness and the grit," said Dowell, who adjusted to Dallas quickly.

"It's been a pretty easy transition getting down here and they've been great," Dowell said of the Stars. "It's been a little bit of a long training camp because you're just chomping at the bit to get going. But there's good chemistry with the team here."

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

NHL Draft Profile: D Quinn Hughes

NHL Draft Profile: D Quinn Hughes

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Quinn Hughes

Position: Defenseman
Height: 5-foot-10
Weight: 170 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

"He's got the puck skills, is a good skater, and is a guy with some high-end offensive talent. He wants to get right in there and play where it's hard and where you get rewarded. When he gets that puck on his stick, he wants to bury it."

NHL player comparable: Torey Krug/Kris Letang

Fit for Blackhawks:

It's no secret the Blackhawks are looking to restock their pipeline with some high-end defensemen. Henri Jokiharju and Ian Mitchell are on the way. But the former isn't a lock to be a full-time NHLer this season and the latter will continue playing in college for the 2018-19 season.

Hughes, who shined at Michigan and the IIHF World Championship with Team USA, would have the best chance of the three to crack the Blackhawks lineup first. The problem is, he likely won't be available at No. 8, so if Hughes is the guy they're locked in on, they'd need to trade up to grab him. 

If they did that, Hughes would give the Blackhawks a third blue line prospect they can get excited about. He's a left-handed shot, which evens out the balance in the system, and he would become a prime candidate to eventually replace Duncan Keith as the team's No. 1 defenseman.

NHL Draft Profile: F Oliver Wahlstrom

NHL Draft Profile: F Oliver Wahlstrom

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Oliver Wahlstrom

Position: Right wing
Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 205 pounds
Shoots: Right

Scouting report:

"Wahlstrom already has an NHL-caliber shot with a quick release and the ability to create space for himself and linemates. He's most known for his goal-scoring ability and elite shot, and can hit a one-timer as good or better than many professional players."

NHL player comparable: Phil Kessel

Fit for Blackhawks:

The Blackhawks would probably prefer to take a defenseman at No. 8, but because four of them might go inside the Top 7, the best available player on the board is likely to be a forward. And there's a decent chance that could be Wahlstrom.

Wahlstrom would immediately become Chicago's top prospect, and a player that has the potential to slide into the top six when he reaches the NHL — whenever that may be.

He's committed to college for the 2018-19 season, so it's doubtful he would join the team until at least 2019-20, but Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley said in our draft preview edition of the Hawks Talk Podcast that it wouldn't deter them from picking him. 

And it shouldn't, because you don't want to waste a player of his caliber's entry-level years developing in the minors if he's not ready yet.

"I think the way we would evaluate it is, we project them, we try to get a timeline on when we think they might be NHL ready," Kelley said. "But we're also looking for where they are in their development curve and want their ceiling is. I think in some players, you have to be a little bit more patient for them to reach their ceiling. That doesn't necessarily mean that players can't exceed their development curve, I think we saw that with Alex DeBrincat last year."