In the third installment of the MLHS 2011 Draft Profile series, we’re going to take a closer look at American winger Brandon Saad of the Saginaw Spirit. The enigmatic young forward of Syrian descent has seen his stock decline steadily over the past few months due to his inconsistent play and questionable compete level, but this is a player with an impressive physical skillset and tremendous offensive upside. Once billed as a potential top five selection back in September, Saad has disappointed with a mediocre rookie season in the OHL, but could provide a huge steal potential for a team willing to gamble on him toward the end of the first round.
The Basics: Offensively gifted scoring winger for the Saginaw Spirit; 27 goals and 28 assists for 55 points in 59 games played
Strengths: Saad is blessed with all the tools and skills to be a high end point producer at the NHL level. He’s got a strong 6’2 frame which he uses well to protect the puck and possesses good skating ability. He is especially shifty and evasive with the puck and can be a very tough player to defend either on the rush or during a 5 on 5 offensive zone setup because of his unique combination of size and agility. Saad displays a high hockey IQ, good goalscoring instincts and impressive stick-handling ability. When he’s at his best, Saad has the ability to absolutely take over a game by dominating at both ends of the ice, engaging in the dirty areas to win puck battles and maximizing his god-given physical gifts. The potential is there for a true frontline hard-nosed power forward type player.
Weaknesses: Unfortunately, Saad could be yet another victim in a long line players with boatloads of talent who just can’t seem to put it all together. It would not be a stretch to classify Brandon’s 2010-2011 season with Saginaw as a disappointment, both on the scoresheet as well as on the ice and his offensive production actually got worse toward year’s end. The work ethic is a bit of a red flag, as he would take nights off here and there and just didn’t seem to want to elevate his game to the level that many believe he can reach. Saad does not nearly take advantage enough of his size and strength and could certainly stand to play with a nastier physical edge. He is also prone to occasionally over stick-handling the puck at times. He has drawn comparisons to fellow American forwards Peter Mueller and James Van Riemsdyk in this regard.
Draft Day Outlook: Saad has been consistently free-falling down the rankings of late and is currently pegged by Central Scouting and ISS to be taken somewhere in the #18-30 range. Draft day is traditionally wary of work ethic concerns as we saw with Sudbury Wolves’ forward John McFarland, who fell completely out of the first round. How Brandon fares in the pre-draft interviews, particularly from a character analysis perspective, will go a long way in determining his ultimate draft stock in June. Under the right system and with a lot of hard work from the coaching and development staff, he could one day flourish into a big-time player. If you want a selection with huge risk/reward, then this is your guy.
Previous Draft Profiles: