The Chicago Blackhawks have signed prospect Brandon Saad to a three-year entry level contract Tuesday, signaling that the second round pick will start the season in the NHL.
Saad, selected 43rd overall in June, is expected to skate on Chicago’s top line with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp.
Saad becomes the first second round pick to directly into the NHL since Ryan O’Reilly cracked the Colorado Avalanche after being selected 33rd overall in 2009. In 59 games last season with the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League, the Gibsonia, PA. native had 27 goals and 55 points.
Saad can still be returned to Saginaw. After he plays in his 10th game, the first year of Saad’s contract is engaged, bringing him one year closer to restricted free agency. Should Saad play 40 games, he will move one year closer to restricted free agency.
Saad was originally slotted 20th in Future Considerations’ final ranking for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.