Blackhawks sign Brandon Saad, 18
The move paves the way for the 18-year-old Saad to break training camp with the Hawks and potentially make his NHL debut Friday when Chicago opens the season in Dallas.
"I've been through preseason so I'm going try and take [Friday] like any other game," Saad said. "It's definitely exciting."
Saad will earn a base salary of $525,000 in the first year, $750,000 in the second year and $832,500 in the third year, and a signing bonus of approximately $90,000 per year. He can earn an additional $307,000 in incentives if he plays all 82 games, according to a source.
Saad was the 43rd overall pick in the 2011 draft. The Pittsburgh native scored the game-winning goal in the Hawks' 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals during the preseason and impressed with his skill and hockey smarts.
"We're really excited with his potential," Hawks general manager Stan Bowman said. "He's only 18 years old and plays a pro game already. I think he has great years ahead of him."
Saad is the lowest drafted player to make the Hawks in his draft year since the 2003-04 season when Michael Barinka and Lasse Kukkonen were selected 59th and 151st, respectively, in that summer's entry draft.
"We like his style," Bowman said. "He clearly can play with good players. He's done that to date. It's a good story. I'm happy for him."
Saad had to be signed to a contract by 4 p.m. CST Tuesday in order to be eligible to play on opening night. He can play up to nine games with the Hawks and still be eligible to be sent back to his junior team, the Saginaw Spirit of the OHL.
If Saad plays in more than nine games he has to stay with the Hawks for the entire season. Due to his age he is not eligible to play in the AHL with the Rockford IceHogs.
Jesse Rogers covers the Blackhawks for ESPN 1000 and ESPNChicago.com.