Teams, rookies facing fork in the rink

Updated: October 26, 2011, 11:14 AM ET
By Craig Custance

When he got the call into an office to talk to Stan Bowman and Joel Quenneville, Brandon Saad suspected his NHL dream would be put on hold. The second-round pick from June's draft beat the odds and made the Chicago Blackhawks out of training camp, but two games into his NHL career he was asked to sit down for a meeting.

"I didn't think it would be a good thing, obviously," Saad said. "Sitting in there, it was definitely a disappointment."

During the meeting, Saad was told he was being sent back to the OHL and Saginaw. The Blackhawks had nine games to evaluate Saad before the first year of his entry-level contract kicked in, but a numbers crunch meant they wouldn't use it all. Somebody had to go, and Saad made the most sense.

With time to reflect on the experience of his first NHL training camp and his two-game debut, he looks back at it in a positive light.

"All good things came out of it," Saad said. "You get up there and you see the habits these guys have, how hard they work and once you get a taste of it like I did, you want to work even harder to be able to stick."

Saad was named the OHL's player of the week last week, scoring six goals to go with four assists in leading the Spirit to three consecutive road wins. It looks like the right decision was made, and Saad is taking exactly the right approach for next season, but it's not an easy decision to make. As teams and junior stars close in on their nine-game limit, decisions like this are being made all over the league. Here's a look at the most notable players in the debate:

To read more about some of the rookies NHL teams will be making decisions on soon, sign up for ESPN Insider.