With the 43rd overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, the Blackhawks selected forward Brandon Saad out of the Ontario Hockey League, and early on, it seems as though Chicago may have gotten one of that draft's best bargains.
After a two-game stint with the Blackhawks to begin the 2011-12 regular season, Saad returned to the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit and was dominant. In 44 games, he recorded 76 points (34G, 42A), tied for second-best on the Spirit and among the top-20 in the league. His 1.73 points-per-game average was the league's best.
In the OHL Playoffs, he led Saginaw with 17 points (8G, 9A) in 12 games, the third-highest point total at the time the Spirit were eliminated.
chicagoblackhawks.com caught up with Saad to discuss his memories of going through the draft process, and to get his advice for this year's draft class.
At what point in your draft year did you start thinking about the draft and where you would go?
Right near the end of my year in Saginaw, right after the season ended. Throughout the year, it’s always something that’s in the back of your mind. You want to have a big year. But during the year, you’re focused on your team and you want to do well. After the season ends, it really kicks in.
Did you have any idea about where you might be drafted?
Talking to agents, yeah, I always knew I was probably going in the top two rounds or so, maybe even the first round. There’s always talk, but that’s all it is. You have to wait for the draft, because there’s nothing you can do until after your name is called.
What are your memories of the combine? Is there one thing you took away from that experience?
I don’t think there’s one thing as much as remembering the combine in general. I met with a lot of teams. It’s something that I had never gone through before, the whole thing is something that you have to soak in. Going through all of the physical training is tough, but it’s something that was enjoyable to me now, looking back on it.
Did the Blackhawks reach out to you at the combine?
They did meet with me at the combine, and I also met with them a couple of days before the draft, as well. I knew they were interested in me, but there were a couple of other teams who had met with me, too. It was kind of up in the air.
You know that you don’t really control it, and it’s an honor just to be picked by any team. I ended up in a great spot, though, so I’m really happy that I was chosen by Chicago. - Brandon Saad, on the draft process
You’re a Pittsburgh-area native. Did you have any preferences about which team took you?
No, not really. You know that you don’t really control it, and it’s an honor just to be picked by any team. I ended up in a great spot, though, so I’m really happy that I was chosen by Chicago.Did you know a lot of the other players going through the draft process with you?
I played against a lot of the guys in the draft, so I was familiar with them. And on top of that there were four other Pittsburgh guys, I think, and I knew them, too. I bumped into them throughout the combine and draft process, and it was nice to see them get taken, too.The draft is in your backyard this year. Are you going to be there?
I’m pretty sure. I’ve been in contact with the Blackhawks and I’ll probably be there and visit with them.
If one of this year’s draft prospects came to you looking for a piece of advice, what would you tell them?
I’d tell them to try and relax. It’s definitely a nerve-racking couple of days, and you’re wondering where you’ll go. But at the same time, it’s out of your hands at that point. There’s nothing you can control; just take it as it comes.