Chicago Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad is only in his sophomore season, but legendary coach Scotty Bowman still thinks he should have made Team USA’s Olympic roster.
“He should be [on the team],” Bowman told ESPN’s Craig Custance (paywall). “He’s really coming on. He’s got 14 goals. He doesn’t play crazy minutes yet. He’s going to be an all-around player. He’s just got it. He’s strong on his feet. You can see his strength building up all the time.”
Scotty Bowman’s son, Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman, was part of the selection committee. Like his father, the younger Bowman thinks highly of Saad and spoke in support of him throughout the process, based on an ESPN report.
In the end, Blake Wheeler and T.J. Oshie were only narrowly picked over Saad, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Blackhawks forward get serious consideration as an injury replacement if the United States needs one.
It would certainly make some sense, especially given that Saad already has developed on-ice chemistry with Patrick Kane and that kind of familiarity can be very valuable in the Olympics. His lack of experience is knock against him, but then again, he did play a significant role in Chicago’s 2013 Stanley Cup championship.
For now though, all Saad can do is continue to serve the Blackhawks and let whatever happens, happen.
With their season on the line on Friday night the Philadelphia Flyers are making a change in goal.
Michal Neuvirth, who has played just 59 minutes of NHL hockey since Feb. 18, will get the Game 5 start in goal when they take on the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Neuvirth replaced Brian Elliott in Philadelphia’s Game 4 loss on Wednesday night after Elliott gave up three goals on 17 shots, the second time he was benched in the first four games. The Flyers have already used three goalies in this series with Elliott, Neuvirth, and Petr Mrazek all getting playing time. None of them have played well.
Aleksander Barkov of the Florida Panthers, William Karlsson of the Vegas Golden Knights, and Ryan O’Reilly of the Buffalo Sabres have been named as the three finalists for the 2018 Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, the NHL announced on Friday. The award, voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association, is given “to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”
The winner will be announced during the NHL Awards show in Las Vegas on June 20.
The Case for Aleksander Barkov: The Panthers center certainly has the “high standard of playing ability” part down with a season that saw him lead the team with 78 points and finish tied for third in goals with 27. Barkov played the fifth-most minutes (1,743:32) among NHL forwards and only picked up seven minor penalties. This is the second time he’s been named a finalist in the last three seasons.
The Case for William Karlsson: Karlsson had a monster of a season with 43 goals and 78 points during the Golden Knights’ historic first year. In playing 1,534:47, the 25-year-old forward racked up only 12 PIMs. Should Karlsson win, he would become the first player to win an end-of-season trophy for a team in its inaugural season since Wayne Gretzky of the Edmonton Oilers won the Byng and Hart Trophy and in 1979-80.
The Case for Ryan O'Reilly: O’Reilly missed one game this season and logged 1,686:10 of ice time for the Sabres. He recorded only one penalty all season, way back on Oct. 24 versus Detroit, a slashing call. His one penalty is the fewest among NHL players who suited up for at least 41 games this season. He’s a previous winner having taken home the trophy in 2014 while a member of the Colorado Avalanche.