Brandon Saad stood in the Johnnys IceHouse West locker room with a smile on his face. It was a confident smile from a guy whos feeling a little more comfortable entering this training camp.
Comfortable and confident. But not overly so in either category to where hes penciling himself into the Blackhawks roster.
Its not really easy, Saad said. Ive got to come in and prove myself again.
Saad has been here, done that as far as the Blackhawks summer prospect camp. But he realizes that his performance here, and in training camp, will be key to making and possibly staying with the Blackhawks this season. After all, nothing is guaranteed, no matter how upstart his performance was last season.
Its a fresh start and I have to work hard; just the comfort level is different, Saad said. Im more familiar this second time around, but theres not much feedback yet. Ill come in here and try out and I have to play well.
Saad made the opening-day roster thanks to his work ethic and productive camp. And after finishing his season with the Saginaw Spirit, Saad rejoined the Blackhawks for two playoff games against the Phoenix Coyotes. And that recall gave Saad a boost of confidence that he hopes to take with him through to this fall.
The Blackhawks brass is high on Saad, and has been since last camp. General manager Stan Bowman said last week that he expects Saad to push for a big role this season. Coach Joel Quenneville talked at the draft about the strides Saad made, even from the start of last season to when he returned for the playoffs.
Saad had visions of making and staying with the Blackhawks last season. He got a good taste of what it will take to do so.
I just keep doing my thing, thats all, Saad said. Hopefully Ill be here all year. Thats the goal, to try to work hard this summer to make that.