Ray Shero didn't take Brandon Saad, but you know what, I didn't either.
In the 2011 SB Nation mock draft (which is kinda cool to look back on), Saad didn't go until #30. At #23, when I was picking for the Penguins, I took Rocco Grimaldi. I really wanted Boone Jenner, but he got mock-drafted the pick just before me. I had to move on to Grimaldi, and I justified taking the smaller player specifically over Saad and Nicklas Jensen back then by saying:
Saad and Jensen were the two other players I most strongly considered.
Both have great size (6’2- 6’3 range) and also some good skill and project to be potential NHL power forward caliber..
But both also have some question marks about their drive, and inconsistencies and both need to fill out a lot physically. Saad’s stock has fallen all year long as it seems the more people have seen, the less they’ve liked in his on-ice habits.
I think that’s why Grimaldi stood out- his work ethic is unquestionable, and though he’s 165, he’s very strong and probably won’t be adding all that more weight. He tested well at the combine and already is pretty jacked.
"The issue with hype comes accountability, and Saad really dropped off the map as the year went forward," said Jesse Marshall of Faceoff Factor. "To be fair, Saad was battling injury ... but that same drive and work ethic that put him at the top of a lot of lists to start the year kind of came back to bite him in the end. He appeared disengaged a lot towards the end of the year and some people accused him of mailing it in as the season drew to a close."
The bad taste left in Marshall's mouth was shared by all the scouting services. The NHL's official scouting service dropped Saad to No. 8 among North American skaters in their mid-season draft ranking, and Bob McKenzie's survey of NHL scouts also had Saad No. 8 in January.
After his injury at the end of the season, Saad would continue to slide, down to No. 19 among North American skaters. From being ranked in the top four before season considering all prospects, to No. 19 just looking at players from Canada and America, 2010-11 has seen Saad's draft stock drop quite a bit.