Chicago Blackhawks: Center Experiments Now Include Brandon Saad

Jon FromiSenior Analyst IJuly 15, 2012

Brandon Saad took his shot at center at prospects camp.
Brandon Saad took his shot at center at prospects camp.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman is trying to show the hockey world he's capable of bringing out the inner center of his talent. With a need for a second-line center, Bowman seems determined to fill the spot from within the organization.

Last summer, it was Patrick Kane who underwent the transformation to the position. This year's project could be highly-touted prospect Brandon Saad.

Saad, who is looking to make the 'Hawks after a cup of coffee with the team last season, was said by Bowman to have asked to play center at Chicago's prospect camp last week. Bowman explained Saad's request to ESPNChicago.com's Jesse Rogers.

He (Saad) asked us. He said he’d like to try playing in the scrimmage here. Why not, it’s a good opportunity for him.

Saad, who is brand new to the position, hinted to Brian Hedger of NHL.com that he may skate in the middle in training camp.

It's something I'm willing to try for sure. Just to be helpful and play as many positions as I can is something I'm willing to do.

That's spoken like a young player who wants to be a full-time member of the Blackhawks. Saad sees the opening at second-line center just like everyone else.

The best-case scenario would be for Bowman to fill the position with a big two-way playmaker via free agency or trade. Those players just don't grow on trees.

Chicago has used wingers Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane there in recent seasons. Marcus Kruger spent time there in the latter stages of the 2012-13 season.

Bowman has attempted to find the missing piece through the draft. Brandon Pirri should get a look at camp. Up-and-comers like Kevin Hayes and Mark McNeill are still a ways off from denting the roster.

The closer Chicago gets to training camp, the more likely the chances are that the second center will come from a player already in the system. The 'Hawks could maintain the status quo, hand the reins to a rookie or stun us by announcing the Brandon Saad Center Project.

A surprise acquisition can't be completely ruled out. That said, Bowman's solution at second-line center is probably already in the fold.

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