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.
At one point in his playing career, Michael Peca was a hero to those in Buffalo as he was captain of the Sabres. During his five seasons with the Sabres, Peca was a 20-25 goal per season player and matched up well against most of the big centers at that time. After stints in Edmonton, Long Island, and Columbus, Peca called it a career and joined TSN as a studio analyst.
Now, Peca is leaving the TV studio and making a run at a hockey front office job in Buffalo… Just not in the NHL. Peca has signed on to become the general manager for the Buffalo Junior Sabres and give himself a chance at seeing what he can do putting together a team of youngsters. There, Peca will be helping put together a team for coach and fellow Sabres alum Grant Ledyard to help become winners.
Seeing former NHLers take roles in junior hockey leadership is nothing new. In fact, it’s the road you see many ex-players take. Guys like Doug Gilmour and Dale Hunter have taken roles in coaching junior teams in Canada. Meanwhile, former Sabres defenseman in his own right, Bob Boughner made a name for himself coaching in the OHL as well. Boughner just recently returned to the OHL after a year assisting Scott Arniel in Columbus, signing on to be the head coach of the Windsor Spitfires.
The kind of junior hockey those guys are handling compared to what Peca is doing with the Junior Sabres is at a much higher level. That said, for Peca this is a start down a path towards a different kind of career in hockey and the kind of thing one has to do if they want to become a GM or team executive at another level. If he can have success again in Buffalo, he’ll be on the road to bigger and better things.
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.
Lost in the mix of the Los Angeles Kings great start to the season is how the Kings are going to handle the future of prospect center, and 2009 first round pick, Brayden Schenn. Schenn has been a healthy scratch more often than not lately and thanks to that, a decision on whether or not to send him back to his junior team has been delayed. NHL teams get nine games played to decide whether or not that player stays in the NHL and start up their entry-level contract or be sent back to junior hockey.
For Schenn, what started out well this year has turned into being mired in the press box as the Kings decide his immediate future. As Rich Hammond of L.A. Kings Insider shares, head coach Terry Murray isn’t making a decision on him just yet.
“We haven’t made a decision on Schenn, nothing firm. … We did have a meeting, a coaches-manager meeting. We talked about a bunch of different scenarios, but we haven’t reached any decision. Just keep going through it, and keep working with all the young players that are here, that are part of the hockey club, and try to make them better every day.”
Schenn is still at eight games, meaning the Kings could put him in one more game before making a decision on his contract status, but Murray said he wasn’t sure whether Schenn would get into a game any time soon.
With Schenn being so close to the brink of forcing the Kings to make a decision one way or another, it puts him in the precarious spot of having to be the guy in the press box each night when he could be getting work with the Brandon Wheat Kings on a nightly basis in the WHL. Having him bust his tail in practices with the Kings while learning on the job means analysis of the situation from chair jockeys like us can get a bit crazy. Both arguments have merit, but at this point you have to think that coach Murray and Kings GM Dean Lombardi have a good idea of what they’re doing. Seeing Schenn handled this way, however, is most peculiar though.