The Blackhawks signed 18-year-old rookie left wing Brandon Saad to a three-year entry level contract on Tuesday, assuring the second-round draft pick would start the season on the NHL roster.
Not only has Saad made the roster but he will skate on the first line with all-stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp in Friday's regular season opener at Dallas.
“It's going to be awesome,” Saad said. “It's pretty unbelievable. It's sinking in a little bit.”
Saad still can be returned to his junior team in Saginaw before he appears in his 10th NHL game. He cannot be assigned to Rockford as long as he has junior eligibility remaining.
According to a Hawks source, if Saad is "only average" in the games he plays, it's likely he would be sent back to juniors.
“You have to credit him for the hard work and determination,” Hawks general manager Stan Bowman said. “He's earned a spot. That's a good story for us. We put him in a position to succeed and he seized it.”
Bowman set his roster at the maximum 23 on Tuesday, returning winger Jeremy Morin to Rockford and putting injured left wing Viktor Stalberg on injured reserve.
Sharp and Ben Smith practiced Tuesday and are expected to play in the opener.
Dave Bolland (upper body) didn't practice but hasn't been ruled out of Friday's game.
“Bolland is doing well,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We'll see how he is (Wednesday) and there's a chance he could be playing this weekend.”