Brandon Saad’s spin-o-rama pass to Patrick Kane against Minnesota on Oct. 28 will long live in replays, the second-year player taking a page out of his linemate’s stylish playbook.
“You see it, you try different things and you never know,” Saad said about that play. “Playing around good players, you learn those good habits.”
Saad’s learned plenty in his time with the Blackhawks, and playing with some of the team’s superstar players has just added to his game. His play has garnered him Calder Memorial Trophy consideration and, even better, a Stanley Cup. Could it also earn him a spot on Team USA for the Winter Olympics?
The 21-year-old forward is like so many NHL players right now: He’d love a chance to play for his home country in the Winter Olympics in February. And considering what he’s done in his brief professional career, he should get strong consideration. Saad currently has three goals and five assists and has formed good chemistry with everyone he’s played with, Kane being the latest. He’s never looked intimidated, dating back to early last season when he was put on the top line as a rookie. That veteran-like poise and play would make him a valuable Team USA member.
Coach Joel Quenneville said Saad’s game compliments other players’, and vice-versa.
“You saw it last year: One thing about him, he has the ability to make plays on his own, he has some strength on the puck, can play against big, top defensemen. He doesn’t change too much, no matter who he’s playing with, and that’s a good strength to have in his own game,” Quenneville said. “Obviously his play recognition with top guys compliments the guys he’s playing with. No matter what line he’s on, we should have a line that’s decent offensively.”
As for those Olympic thoughts, Quenneville understands players having them.
“Going into the season and at this point, for sure. It’s a great honor and a great achievement,” he said. “So I’m sure that it’s there, and that’s part of where they are in their mindset going into games every day.”
The thought is an enticing one, for sure, for Saad.
“I wore the USA sweater in the past. Every time it’s special, but it’s nothing like the Olympics,” he said. “If that opportunity comes, it would be a dream come true. I just have to focus on playing well here and let the chips fall into place.”
Wearing that Team USA sweater is a motivation, as long as it doesn’t become a distraction. For Saad, playing well every night to get more points, more victories, is a priority.
“It’s pretty easy to forget about it. Right now we’re looking at team success here and playing well for the Blackhawks. Through that you’ll get a better look in making that team. I’m sure a big reason I got invited to (Team USA’s orientation camp) was having success with this team last year. Just playing well here is going to help me out.”
Saad has accomplished plenty in his brief professional career already. Adding a Winter Olympics appearance might be added to that resume in 2014.