Thursday, November 4, 2010

Brandon Saad, Uber-Prospect

A quick check-in on an item of some interest, at least to one Icer: the status of Saginaw Spirit center Brandon Saad, younger brother of Penn State sophomore George. Here's a nice article from the Youngstown Vindicator about the brothers from back in 2009 when both were playing in the NAHL with the Mahoning Valley Phantoms.

While George is currently recovering from a bone bruise in his knee, Brandon is enjoying a good start to the OHL season. He's leading the Spirit in scoring with 18 points (9 goals, 9 assists), and the ninth-year franchise has rolled to a league-best 12-2-1-1 record. Last Friday, he enjoyed a three-point night, including the eventual game-winning goal, as Saginaw defeated Owen Sound 5-2. Then he added two assists the next night in a 6-5 shootout loss at London.

One ranking of 2011 NHL draft prospects places Brandon Saad 4th overall, first among OHL players. What they had to say about him:
4. Brandon Saad, RW – Saginaw Spirit (OHL) Just beginning his first major junior season after playing for the U.S. NTDP, Saad has a great deal of upside and has already put up better than point-per-game numbers for the Spirit. The 6-foot-2, 211-pound power forward is a freight train out there.
Scout Says: “Very good skater with extra gear, which is unusual for a guy his size. Moves the puck through traffic, good positioning, creates space.”
Don't like The Hockey News? Okay, how about TSN's Bob McKenzie, who has Saad tied for 4th? Think McKenzie's a windbag? How about USA Today's Kevin Allen, who ranks him as the best American player in the 2011 draft?
Pennsylvania native Brandon Saad's impressive play in the Ontario Hockey League gives rise to the strong possibility an American will crack the top five in the NHL draft next summer for the first time in three years.
"Brandon is a classic power forward with size, strength and finishing abilities," USA Hockey assistant executive director Jim Johannson said. "He projects to be a steady, producing scorer at the NHL level."
Basically, barring a disastrous rest of the season, he'll likely become property of a bad NHL team sometime next June.

I hate to point out the obvious, but it's hard not to wonder what might have been, if the high-end prospect from Gibsonia, PA had a viable college playing option for high-end prospects in his home state. No offense Robert Morris and Mercyhurst, you know what I mean. I'm not alone in wondering - Ryan Kennedy from The Hockey News does as well. And that Vindicator story from the top indicated that Brandon at least thought about the college option. Interestingly, it appears George wasn't really considering Penn State at that point, as he mentions "Harvard and a couple of Boston schools" as options.

Of course, the silver lining in all this is that the next Brandon Saad will have a tougher choice to make. And George? He's definitely one of the strongest contenders of the current Icers as far as making the inaugural NCAA squad in 2012-13, his senior year. Should be fun to watch.

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