It was a nice run while it lasted for Chicago’s Brandon Saad. After getting to start on opening night alongside Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp and winding up practicing the past few days on the fourth line in Chicago, Saad is headed back to the OHL Saginaw Spirit.
Saad was trying to stick around with the Blackhawks after impressing Joel Quenneville in training camp enough so that Saad got a huge opportunity during Chicago’s opening night loss to Dallas. Since then, however, reality set in for the 18 year-old 2011 second round pick and down the depth chart he went.
In Saad’s two games he had no points and just three shots on goal. He’ll be more of a factor next season in training camp and after getting such a generous look this time around, things are looking up for Saad even though he’s likely very disappointed now.
While we’re going to see guys like first round pick Mark Scheifele and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins get their shot to breakout with their respective teams this year, one guy we won’t be seeing in the NHL until at least next season is Jonathan Huberdeau.
The Panthers have decided to not get Huberdeau signed to his entry-level deal and give him the nine game preview treatment and will instead send him back to junior hockey with Saint John in the QMJHL.
Huberdeau’s selection in June at the draft coupled with Tallon’s big spending ways generated a ton of buzz for the Panthers this summer, but without Huberdeau it’s a bit of a buzzkill. That said, Huberdeau’s development comes first and if he’s not ready for primetime it’s best to send him back to juniors.
All youth is not lost in Florida, however, as last year’s first round pick, Erik Gudbranson, will start the year with the Panthers along the blue line. Gudbranson looked solid in camp last year but he and the Panthers couldn’t agree on a contract before the start of the season and he went back to juniors. Now Gudbranson is signed up and locked in and will be in the lineup on opening night. Given what the Panthers have going with their forwards and defensemen respectively, keeping a big defenseman around is a more pressing need than another forward.
After all the speculation and wondering what exactly the Kings would do with 2009 top pick Brayden Schenn this season as he approached his games deadline between staying in Los Angeles or heading back to junior hockey with the Brandon Wheat Kings, the Kings finally made a tough choice. Team general manager Dean Lombardi announced today that Schenn will head back to junior hockey after getting an extended look after eight games with the Kings this year. Schenn also spent two weeks in the AHL on a conditioning assignment after being a healthy scratch for so long, but it wasn’t meant to be this year for the 19 year-old.
Schenn hasn’t played in a game since October 30th for the Kings and getting a young kid like him consistent playing time is the right move to make. Keeping him with the big league team as a consistent healthy scratch would only harm his development. Now, he heads back to the CHL where he’ll play a ton of minutes and likely also get a chance to play once again for Team Canada in the World Junior Championships at the end of this month. In eight games Schenn had no goals and two assists with a -2 rating.
We’ll likely see Schenn get a better look next year in Los Angeles to be the teams number two or three centerman. He’ll be back, but in the long run this is better for his development. Only curious part of all this is why it took the Kings so long to decide what they would do with him. The team has plenty of players at center, Schenn’s position, but not much at wing (a big reason why Marco Sturm is looking to be acquired). Had Schenn been a natural left or right wing, it’s possible he would’ve stayed up. Instead, the potential addition of Sturm to go along with the return of Alexei Ponikarovsky, keeping Kyle Clifford in the fold, and the stalwart play of Ryan Smyth strengthens up the Kings left wing considerably.