Saad gets chance with short-handed Hawks

CHICAGO -- The loss of Chicago Blackhawks star Marian Hossa has opened the door for the hottest prospect in the organization.

Brandon Saad, a 2011 second-round pick, is set to make his playoff debut on Thursday in Game 4 of the Hawks’ quarterfinal playoff series against the Phoenix Coyotes. He arrived in Chicago from Rockford where he was working out Wednesday morning and is excited to part of the action.

“It would be awesome,” Saad said. “It’s what I dream of. I want to make the NHL and play. I got a taste of it at the start of the season. Playoff hockey would be awesome to be a part of.”

Saad impressed everyone around the Hawks with a stellar training camp and made the opening night roster as a 19-year-old. He played two games after signing a three-year contract before the Hawks sent him back to his juniors team, the Saginaw Spirit. He dominated that league, amassing 76 points in 44 regular season games.

“Well [Saad’s] got some skill,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Just looking at him physically today, it was a remarkable difference in him from training camp and the stint he had at the start of the season. How he’s filled out, how he’s grown, he looks bigger, and he had a pretty remarkable year and a great playoff [in the OHL].”

Those are lofty comments considering Saad had an NHL-ready body back in September. He’s listed at 6-foot-2, 211 pounds and has the complete package to become a bona-fide player. Now he just has to put it all together -- starting in the middle of a heated playoff series.

“Being here helped me tremendously with my season,” Saad said of playing two NHL games already. “I went back and led the way there and glad to be back now.”

Expect Saad to play on one of the top lines, possibly with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. He lined up there on opening night back in October.

Sometimes that unknown can be just as exciting as the known. Who knows how effective Saad can be? We only know he’s highly skilled and worth a look and with the Hawks down Hossa and the suspended Andrew Shaw, it just might be Saad’s turn to shine. It would add another crazy layer to an already crazy series.