PITTSBURGH -- As the Blackhawks added new prospects to their organization during the 2012 draft, they also brought arguably their best prospect with them: Pittsburgh-area native Brandon Saad.
Saad announced the Hawks' first overall pick -- winger Teuvu Teravainen -- to his hometown crowd at Consol Energy Center on Friday.
The Hawks don't expect any of their 2012 draft picks to contend for roster spots this coming season. But Saad was able to do it last season after being selected with the 43rd overall pick.
Saad turned heads at prospect and training camp, eventually earning a roster spot to start the season. Helping Saad was that he already had an NHL-ready frame at 6-2 and 200 pounds. He played in two games before going back to Saginaw of the Ontario Hockey League, where he had an extremely productive and honors-filled season.
The Hawks showed a ton of faith in Saad when he was recalled during the postseason against Phoenix Coyotes after Marian Hossa was injured. He played in two games, recording an assist and a plus-2 rating.
"To be honest, it feels like yesterday I was out there getting drafted," Saad said. "It was a huge year for me. An awesome year for me to be honest with the experiences I got to go through.
"I think I gained a lot just to be able to start there and take in the experience with the proven guys, and to be able to finish and get some playoff action was just a tremendous year for me."
Saad said he had the ambition of making the team last season, but still thought it was far-fetched.
"That was the goal last year, even though it was a little bit more [of a longshot] last year being drafted and then going into the camp," Saad said. "Having the experience that I did, definitely my goal is make the team [this coming season]."
Saad will attend the Hawks' prospect camp later this summer, but he will primarily work out and train on his own. He's still only 19 years old.
"It's getting stronger, faster and a couple skill things too and work against the boards and things like that," Saad said.