Rookie left wing Brandon Saad was reading nothing into fact he was getting a chance to play in his third straight preseason game Friday night against Washington at the United Center.
Saad, a second-round draft pick last June, has been the most impressive junior prospect in training camp. First-round picks Mark McNeill and Phillipe Danault were sent back to their junior teams after appearing in just one preseason game.
“It's nice to play,” Saad said. “They haven't told me too much other than keep it up and work hard. I'm getting to play my first game in Chicago so that's pretty exciting. I'm just trying to work hard and make plays out there.”
With a glut of veterans at forward the 18-year-old Saad remains a long shot to make the team, but he certainly has left an impression as someone to watch down the road. Saad has junior eligibility remaining with Saginaw in the Ontario Hockey League, meaning he cannot be assigned to Rockford.
“He's had a real nice camp,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We've liked him since Day 1. In these NHL exhibition games he looks like he belongs. The puck seems to follow him around.”
Other prospects joining Saad in the lineup for Friday's game against the Capitals are forwards Marcus Kruger, Ben Smith, Jimmy Hayes and Rob Flick along with defenseman Dylan Olsen and Brian Fahey.
The Hawks will dress their most veteran lineup to date in the preseason, including Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Dave Bolland, Jamal Mayers, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Steve Montador, Andrew Brunette, Viktor Stalberg, Rostislav Olesz and Corey Crawford.
Alex Ovechkin will be in the Washington lineup.