PITTSBURGH Brandon Saad stood on the CONSOL Energy Center podium amid cheers from the hometown fans. The Blackhawks second-round selection from a summer ago, Saad announced the teams first-round pick this year as the applause for him grew.
It was a great moment for the Pittsburgh native who, in a year, went from a second-round pick to making the Blackhawks roster out of training camp to being called up for postseason games. And as Saad goes through his summer workouts, hes looking to make the Blackhawks roster again and stick around longer.
That was a goal last year, even though it was more lofty. And now, definitely the goal is to make the team, said Saad, who will be attending the Blackhawks prospect camp later this summer.
But it was training camp last fall where Saad surprised everyone. Coach Joel Quenneville liked what he saw, and Saad kept earning preseason games. It paid off, as he started the season with the Blackhawks against the Dallas Stars before returning to the Saginaw Spirit. Saad tallied 34 goals and 76 points and earned the Spirits MVP award. And his work there got him recalled by the Blackhawks for two playoff games against the Phoenix Coyotes.
Quenneville said Saads potential should continue to grow.
He had a good start, and he showed at the end of the year that he was capable of playing in a playoff game. It looked like he was comfortable and ready to take off. I was talking to several people in the junior leagues; he had a dynamic year (with Saginaw) where he was arguably the top guy in the league. It looked like he progressed in size, strength and in hockey. His upside is exciting.
Saad said hes working on getting stronger and faster this offseason. Hes determined to get back and stick with the Blackhawks this season. Its been a heck of a year for the Pittsburgh native. Hes looking to continue the dream.
To be honest, it feels like yesterday I was getting drafted, he said. It was a huge year for me. It was awesome, to be honest, the experiences I got to go through.
High School Lites is back with an exciting Week 9 full of thrilling matchups. NBC Sports Chicago has the highlights of some of the top matchups from Friday's games.
Be sure to follow us on Twitter @NBCSPREPS for all of the latest IHSA football scores and highlights.
DRIVE: Batavia (episode 9)
TEAM OF THE WEEK: Oak Forest football
VIEWERS' CHOICE GAMES OF THE WEEK: Fremd runs past Schaumburg
WINTRUST ATHLETE OF THE WEEK: Notre Dame running back Ty Gavin
FRIDAY'S TOP 25 SCORES
(1) Lincoln-Way East 31, (16) Bolingbrook 0
(2) Batavia 24, Wheaton North 13
(3) Brother Rice 31, (17) Montini 0
(4) Marist 24, Benet 7
(6) Homewood-Flossmoor 56, Sandburg 0
(7) Cary-Grove 55, (15) Naperville Central 41
(9) Nazareth Academy 42, Marian Catholic 6
(10) Maine South 48, Niles West 6
(11) Oswego 22, Plainfield South 15
(12) Richards 41, Eisenhower 6
(13) Phillips 41, Raby 0
(14) Willowbrook 42, Downers South 20
(18) Oak Park-River Forest 48, Lyons 0
(19) Warren 43, Mundelein 7
(20) Glenbard West 35, Proviso West 6
(21) Hillcrest 43, Bremen 6
Joliet Catholic 33, (22) Notre Dame 17
(23) Hinsdale Central 21, Hinsdale South 12
(24) Rolling Meadows 34, Buffalo Grove 7
Wheaton Warrenville South 13, (25) St. Charles North 11
Payton 43, Kenwood 42
Coal City 43, Lisle 14
Huntley 55, Dundee-Crown 12
Perspectives 32, Solorio 16
SATURDAY'S TOP 25 GAMES
Fenwick vs. (5) Mount Carmel
(8) Simeon vs. Curie
Chris Emma, Matt Zahn and Gabe Ramirez join David Kaplan on the panel.
0:00- NBC Sports National NBA Insider Tom Haberstroh joins the panel to discuss the Bulls’ terrible defensive performance as well as Zach LaVine’s impressive season debut.
11:35- Khalil Mack is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Patriots. Can the Bears pull off the upset against Tom Brady?
23:50- NBC Sports Boston Patriots insider Tom E. Curran joins Kap to talk about how New England views the Bears and discuss how Matt Nagy’s team can exploit the Patriots’ weaknesses.
Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below.