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The Scouting Report: Brandon Saad and Adam Clendening

by Chicago Blackhawks / Chicago Blackhawks
Blackhawks 2011 second-rounders Brandon Saad (left) and Adam Clendening.

The Blackhawks selected 11 players in this weekend's 2011 NHL Entry Draft, adding lots of new talent into an already deep system. But what are these players' strengths and weaknesses? brings you what draft experts had to say about some of the top picks. Today's scouting report: defenseman Adam Clendening (36th overall) and LW Brandon Saad (43rd overall), each selected in the second round.

ADAM CLENDENING, D, Boston University

NHL Central Scouting: “Clendening (jumps) out at you playing on the power play with his high level of finesse and skill. He is an excellent skater and hard to pin down when forechecking. He has a very good shot from the point. He is also very adequate in his own zone.”

Red Line Report: “Plays with an abundance of confidence, using his superb stickhandling and passing to start the transition game. Offensively very smart and gifted—has a great snap shot and deft passing skills. One of the best power play quarterbacks in the entire draft. His vision from the point is great, and he uses a low shot/slap pass for tips while patiently walking the blue line laterally to create lanes. Defensively he was a mess most of the year. Rampant turnovers and a lack of defensive zone awareness are problems—he is way too casual in his puckhandling around the net and allows opposing forwards to camp out around the crease. Does play with a bit of whippy, hard edge, though, and is nasty with the stick.” “Clendening is an offensive defenseman blessed with superb puck-moving ability and on-ice vision. His excellent puck skills are one reason why many scouts are so high on Clendening. He can see plays develop and follows them quite well. He can also be found frequently jumping into plays too. Clendening’s ability to move the puck and patience with it makes him an ideal quarterback on the power play. He makes very good decisions with the puck and distributes the puck very well. Clendening can also control the tempo of the game from the blue line. He is an excellent skater with good speed that can keep up with many of the faster opposing forwards. He also transitions quite well too. One area where Clendening will need to improve is keeping his feet moving more consistently. While he is known for his offensive prowess, Clendening is also solid defensively. He doesn’t shy away from the physical side of the game and plays with a good deal of intensity. However, Clendening could stand to utilize his intensity and grit more to the benefit of his team. He possesses a very good shot and can get pucks to the net. As his rookie season at Boston University went along, one area that Clendening showed noticeable improvement in was the quality of shots he was taking."

NHL Central Scouting: “Brandon has very good speed and agility and that makes him dangerous, he’s solid on his skates and fights through checks very well. He plays a solid two-way game and is very responsible defensively.”

Red Line Report: “Top-end talent had a very inconsistent year in his Major Junior debut. At times was a dominating force who controlled the play nearly every shift, but too often was a passenger and ended up being a disappointing underachiever in our eyes. Has every tool in the shed with size/strength, hockey sense and puck skills. Has a rocket shot with a pro-caliber release, and soft hands to feather passes on the tape. Oddly, his skating stride seemed to regress this year, though he’s still very strong on his pegs and difficult to knock off the puck. Lack of production the last quarter of the season and playoffs is a real concern—simply stopped driving aggressively toward the net. If he gets back to playing a hard-edged game with consistent effort, he could be a real steal if he falls to the second half of the first round.” “Saad is a solid, physical two-way player, who has seen his stock fall after missing out on the U.S. junior team and struggling through a persistent groin injury. In the end, he finished with 27 goals and 28 assists in 59 games. One thing that scouts like about Saad is his versatility. He’s proven proficient in all aspects of the game, playing on the power play, the penalty kill, and being a physical force in the five-on-five game.”

The Hockey News: “There are scouts who believe that, from a physical standpoint, Saad is ready to jump to the NHL next season. His game is raw and could use seasoning, but scouts like what they see. And while he put up respectable totals this season, he didn’t do as much as some people would have liked. Expectations ran high for Saad when he chose the OHL over the college route after coming from the U.S. national team development program. He scored 20 goals in the first half of the season and just seven the rest of the way. Scouts do like how strong he is on the puck and how responsible he is in all zones.”

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