By Ben Meyer-Abbott firstname.lastname@example.org
Brandon Saad will make his NHL debut tonight alongside Blackhawks stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp on the team’s top line.
It’s the culmination of a dream for the 18-year-old rookie, who surprised many by making the team out of training camp.
“Yeah definitely,” Saad said about his NHL debut being a dream come true. “Especially playing with these two guys on opening night, being as young as I am, it’s going to be incredible.”
Saad, who was drafted in the second round (43rd overall) in this summer’s draft, with play on the right, but said he’s comfortable on both wings, and admitted to some nerves before Friday’s game against the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center.
“It’s not too bad,” Saad said. “I think early on it was a little bit difficult, but now with playing the amount of preseason games I did and finally getting a real game in tonight it will help me out with my confidence for sure.”
Sharp said he and Toews will have advice for Saad to help him get his feet underneath him, but feels the rookie has shown he’s had enough poise to handle himself well.
“They’ll be some conversations throughout the game,” Sharp said. “Johnny likes to talk, and yell and scream if things aren’t going well. But we’ll have some advice for him, but based on the way he’s been playing I think he’s ready to go. Everyone individually needs to worry about themselves and we’ll make adjustments as we go along if we need to.”
Saad also talked briefly about the stress of having what amounts to a nine-game tryout before he can be reassigned without burning a year on his contract.
“Maybe a little bit,” Saad said. “But I think you can’t worry about it too much. I’m here for a reason and just got to play my game and the rest will fall into place, whatever they decide to do.
“The ultimate goal is to make the NHL and just trying to do my best for them to keep me. I’m trying not to look at it like that and take it day-by-day and game-by-game so I’m just trying to work hard every day and it’s up to them.”