Saad hoping to bank on 'huge' potential

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Saad hoping to bank on 'huge' potential

Brandon Saad has been here before, done this before.

The Pittsburgh native was the big surprise out of the Blackhawks 2011 training camp, earning a roster spot right out of the gate. It was a tremendous experience for the 20-year-old, one that gave him an early taste of professional hockey and all that comes with it.

It was definitely a whirlwind, said Saad. Its tough to make it here at that young of an age. But with injuries and stuff, I got the opportunity and it was fun.

That opportunity should make this attempt to make the 2013 Blackhawks a little easier. Well, sort of. Yes, Saad is used to the big stage, to the competition that training camp can bring. But with camp much shorter, few open spots and tight competition, Saad will be fighting for a spot out of camp again this season.

Saad is enjoying his first year of pro hockey regardless. Playing the last four months in Rockford, Saad has had his good stretches, including this past weekend. He tallied six points in two games, including the overtime game-winning goal against the Milwaukee Admirals on Saturday night.

First-year pro, so its definitely been different and a challenge there, Saad said. But its definitely helped my game.

Coach Joel Quenneville, who got to watch Saad in Rockford through the fall and early winter, said Saads potential is huge.

He had some stretches where he was great, others where he was just OK. But hes coming off an outstanding weekend and hes capable of playing at our level, Quenneville said. He showed he can handle playing here but well see right now, whether its about numbers or opportunity. But he can play, and can play with top guys as well.

Where Saad fits in is still uncertain. The Blackhawks are healthy and deep right now, and there are a few guys from Rockford fighting for a job here. But Saad has been here before, done this before. And could do it again.

I definitely got my feet wet last year, so it feels a little different with the confidence, he said. I really feel good. Ive been playing hockey all year, so I hope I have that advantage.

Blackhawks' Artem Anisimov undergoes wrist surgery

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Blackhawks' Artem Anisimov undergoes wrist surgery

Artem Anisimov said last week that he and the Blackhawks had to make the most of this offseason to be prepared for 2016-17. On Tuesday, he took care of something that was apparently ailing him.

Anisimov underwent surgery on Tuesday to repair an injury to his right wrist. Blackhawks team physician Dr. Michael Terry said in a statement that, “the surgery went well. We anticipate his return to full hockey activities in approximately six to eight weeks.”

The 27-year-old center played in 77 regular-season and all seven postseason games for the Blackhawks. He was tied for second on the team with three postseason goals (with Marian Hossa and Duncan Keith).

During last week’s closing meetings, Anisimov said he was going to stay in the Chicago area “for a while” before returning to Russia. He also talked about finding the silver lining in the Blackhawks’ early playoff exit.

“We just need to spend our summer wisely, get prepared for the next season and move forward,” he said.

Blackhawks' Artemi Panarin named 2016 Calder Trophy finalist

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Blackhawks' Artemi Panarin named 2016 Calder Trophy finalist

Artemi Panarin has been named a 2016 Calder Trophy finalist, annually awarded to the "most proficient" player in his rookie season in the National Hockey League.

Philadelphia's Shayne Gostisbehere and Edmonton's Connor McDavid rounded out the top 3.

Panarin, 24, led all rookies this season with 77 points — 30 goals, 47 assists — in 80 regular-season games. Seven of his 30 goals turned out to be the game-winner, which also ranked No. 1 among first-year players.

The last player to record at least 77 points during his rookie season was Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin when he compiled 85 points in 2006-07.

Panarin had one of the best rookie seasons in franchise history, with only Steve Larmer putting up more points (90) in 1982-83.

He became the first Blackhawks rookie to register four-point games in back-to-back contests when on April 1 against Winnipeg — two goals, two assists) and on April 3 against Boston — one goal, three assists.

Panarin also became the first rookie in franchise history to record multi-goal games in consecutive appearances — on Jan. 5 and 6 against the Penguins — since 2005 (Pavel Vorobiev).

Gostisbehere had 17 goals and 29 assists in 64 regular-season games this season with the Flyers. His 46 points ranked No. 1 among rookie defensemen despite getting called up to the NHL in mid-November.

McDavid had 48 points in 45 regular-season games this season with the Oilers. He missed three months with a collarbone injury, but ranked first among rookies in points per game (1.07).

The winner will be announced Wednesday, June 22 at the 2016 NHL Awards in Las Vegas.

For Andrew Ladd, chance to play for a contender trumps money

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For Andrew Ladd, chance to play for a contender trumps money

Andrew Ladd’s second stint in Chicago was, in some ways, like his first one.

He had good teammates and enjoyed being around them again. He had nothing but good things to say about the organization that welcomed him here for the second time in his career.

The only difference was the abrupt postseason ending.

“It’s disappointing, for sure,” Ladd said during Wednesday’s wrap-up interviews. “You bring your family here and move your whole life. You want to make a run for it, make it worthwhile. Unfortunately it didn’t work out that way.”

Ladd’s stay with the Blackhawks is likely to be a brief one. They traded for the veteran, who was part of their 2010 Stanley Cup team, figuring he could be a key piece for another run. It wasn’t to be. Ladd had a quiet postseason, recording just two points in the Blackhawks’ seven-game series against the St. Louis Blues.

“It was a tight series, could’ve gone either way and that’s life,” he said. “You move on. Just happy to have the opportunity to come back and be a part of this group again.”

Ladd has reached that point in his career where he can look at the big picture. He’s won two Cups, one with the Blackhawks and the other with the Carolina Hurricanes. His family grew by another member earlier this month; Ladd brought his his son Walker Gordon, born April 14, home on Tuesday.

“It was a good day after what happened in St. Louis,” Ladd said. “It kind of put things in perspective when you can come home and take your mind off everything else.”

As for Ladd’s continuing hockey career, he said it’s not about getting the lucrative contract anymore as much as it’s about playing for a winner.

“I think I’m at the point in my career where I can make decisions based on being in a good situation. At the end of the day it’s not all about money for me. It’s about being in a good place for my family and being on a team that’s going to contend every year,” Ladd said. “You’d be crazy not to want to be a part of this group and this organization. We’ll see what happens.”

Chances are the Blackhawks and Ladd will not be together in the near future. The Blackhawks are once again facing a salary-cap crunch and, if there is a high-priority signee for them, it’s Andrew Shaw. Even that possibility is a tough one.

Still, Ladd’s not ruling anything out. Ladd’s latest playoff run with the Blackhawks was much shorter than he or they would have liked. But the Blackhawks have the pieces to contend again, and Ladd wouldn’t mind being a part of it.

“Every guy’s at a different point in his career in terms of what he wants to accomplish, whether he has a family or he’s getting on later in his career and wants to be part of a contender,” Ladd said. “There are a lot of things that go into that. You evaluate that individually and try to make the best decision possible for yourself and for your family. At the end of the day, you try to do whatever’s possible to be a part of a group and an organization like this.”