Drafted fourth overall in the 2014 OHL Priority Selection draft - one pick after fellow Colorado Avalanche prospect Travis Barron - Brandon Saigeon hasn’t quite lived up to the hype that surrounded him at the start of his junior career. Now, the 20-year old looks to prove that he has put in the work necessary to carve out a professional career for himself.
Coming off of an appearance in the Memorial Cup, the Avalanche made Saigeon the 140th pick in last months’ draft after he had been passed over in his first two draft eligible years.
Saigeon is a player that many believed wasn’t going to have a professional career, but thanks to a ton of hard work, and improvement to his skating, he has turned himself into a legitimate AHL prospect.
Unlike most players drafted out of the CHL, Saigeon is eligible to make the jump to the AHL right away. Ordinarily, he wouldn’t someone we’d expect to make that leap. He’d go back to the OHL for his over-age season in an attempt to continue his progression towards professional hockey. Thanks to the unique circumstances surrounding the Avalanche and their new AHL affiliate, there are going to be openings for guys like Brandon Saigeon on the Eagles this season. After sharing their AHL team with St. Louis last season, the need to fill out a full roster will create a lot of opportunity at training camp this season.
Saigeon is a two-way center that brings decent size and scoring ability to the middle of the ice. He makes smart, skilled decisions, showing good awareness of his surroundings and has made huge improvements to his all around possession game.
He’s got a knack for finding the open space and putting himself in a position to create an outlet for his teammates. His shot isn’t elite, but it’s very strong and allows him to capitalize on the chances he’s given.
He has become a lot quicker on the ice, but for Saigeon to be effective at the pro level he will need to enhance his skating ability. He skates with a short stride that hinders his acceleration and overall top speed. There has been a ton of improvement in his skating over the past two-years, but he’s still got a long way to go.
Playing on a very good Hamilton Bulldogs team, Saigeon saw a huge jump in production this season. Some of it came from getting a lot of powerplay time with high-end guys like Matthew Strome, Robert Thomas, and Marian Studenic, but a lot of it was the result of a big leap in development.
Nicknamed “Mr. Clutch” thanks to his OHL leading seven game winning goals this past season, Saigeon added 18 goals in 21 playoff games - second behind Boris Katchouk of the Soo Greyhounds.
Over the past year, Saigeon has shown a steeper development curve than many players his age. The work ethic is there, now he needs to prove he has the ability to spend another summer improving his game.
The Avalanche aren’t going to give Saigeon a contract before he gets to camp this August, but if he shows a continued improvement to his game, there is a very real possibility that he could find himself with the Eagles as a bottom-6 player in the AHL this season.