CHICAGO -- At 19, Brandon Saad is already the most experienced NHL player attending Blackhawks Prospects Camp this week at Johnny’s IceHouse West.
Saad is about the only one of the 53 attending who might make the roster out of this year’s training camp, just as he did last year. Add a cup of coffee in the playoffs to his resume and Saad is on the right track. His second prospects camp since being drafted in the second round in 2011 has all eyes on him, even above and beyond first-round picks who are attending.
“It’s easier than last year. [I’m] feeling more comfortable but it’s never easy,” Saad said. “It’s a clean slate. I have to come in and prove myself again and play even better to make the team. I’m looking at a huge summer to make the team.”
Saad couldn’t have played much better for his juniors team, the Saginaw Spirit, last season. He produced 76 points in 44 regular season games, adding another 17 in 12 playoff contests. He was a man among boys with little left to prove at that level of hockey.
“I could go back as an over-ager,” Saad said of returning to juniors. “They allow three of them. But I’m old enough to play in the AHL so we’ll see what they have in store for me.”
You can count on Saad playing close to the Hawks if not for them. Rockford (AHL) is only a short ride away but Saad has plans of sticking in Chicago.
“It’s just been a summer of training,” he said. “It’s been huge for me. Just training hard, looking forward to the season.”
Unless the Hawks think he needs some seasoning Saad could be a top-six addition to the forwards right away. But a stint in the minors to begin the year isn’t out of the question. If and when he dominates there a return trip to Chicago will be in order. Prospects camp is just the start for the budding winger.
“I want to make an impression like everyone else,” Saad said.
He did that a long time ago.
Teuvo Teravainen, forward: The Finnish first-round pick of the Hawks just last month is getting himself familiar with his new surroundings.
“I met some new guys, some new friends here,” he said.
Teravainen had crowds of media around him after the first day of workouts on Monday. He says he’s getting used to the attention but is focused on the team.
“I want to meet the [whole] team and get to know them better,” Teravainen said.
Chris Calnan, forward: It’s not a surprise the nephew of former Hawks star Jeremy Roenick is a good talker. But the 2012 third-round pick is more interested in making an impression on the ice.
That’s on the advice of Roenick.
“He just told me, ‘You’re going to be part of a great organization. Make a good first impression in camp.’ ” Calnan said. “So that’s what I’m looking to do.”
Kevin Hayes, forward: Hayes is the younger brother of Jimmy Hayes, who made a splash with the Hawks last season after being recalled from Rockford. Kevin is still in college in Boston where he won the NCAA title with Boston College last year. This is his third prospects camp since being drafted in the first round in 2010.
“You come in your first year, you’re a little nervous, don’t know what to expect,” Hayes explained. “The second year you have a little bit of knowledge but still one of the young guys. This year I came in and I knew exactly what was going to happen…I felt really comfortable.”
Hayes will return to Boston College for his junior season this fall.
Vincent Hinostroza, forward: Drafted last month in the sixth round, Hinostroza had the shortest commute for camp, coming in from Bartlett. He grew up a Hawks fan and is more than comfortable in his surroundings.
“A lot of familiar faces with the coaches and stuff because I’ve been a fan for so long,” he said.
Hinostroza said he was recovering from knee surgery while the Hawks were winning the 2010 Stanley Cup. He watched everything from his couch and now he’s looking forward to meeting those that are left over from that team. His new teammates.
“Its nuts,” he said. “It’s a crazy feeling. It’s a dream come true.”
Adam Clendening, defense: The second-round 2012 pick signed an entry-level deal recently, declaring himself ready for pro hockey. But not before he improved his defensive game.
“Everyone says I’m really offensive,” Clendening said. “I’ve tried to play on the defensive side of the puck as much as I can. And be the most reliable guy at [Boston University] and I became that there.”