Fun (and Possibly Far-Fetched) Future Headlines Coming Out of Camp
We all know that in this crazy world of hockey, training camp surprises are bound to happen.
Over the years, there have been some surprises coming out of Blackhawks training camp.
There have been guys like Joakim Nordstorm (2013-14), Kyle Baun (2015-16) and Tyler Motte (2016-17) and, of course, Henri Jokiharju last year who might not have been penciled in on the roster weeks prior.
You can follow any of the beat writers to get their takes on how these prospects are performing in these drills and maybe even a glimpse of their personalities (Mario Tirabassi from The-Rink is doing a great job). However, if you know my writing at all, you know I like to take a bit of a different spin on things.
So below, I have players that could surprise this year in how their season plays out. These "headlines" are merely conversation starters and mostly just for fun. I am not advocating for these situations to play out like this, rather want to toss 5 concepts out there that go against what most are thinking right now.
Here we go:
Philipp Kurashev is your 3rd line C to begin the 2019-20 season – everyone is talking about Dach as the one in developmental camp that could crack the roster as the Hawks 3rd line centre. I have another option for you all to noodle on.
Kurashev is a guy I've really liked since the Hawks traded up picks in the 2018 draft to snag him.
Some wonder if he's a winger or a centre and based on what I've watched of him, he's a C to me.
Kurashev took a huge step last year with his strong play in the QMJHL, the WJHC and the World Championships. I watched him closely in the WC when he was playing against men for Team Switzerland and he looked like he belongs.
Could he surprise and slide into that 3C that appears to be open for audition? It's a long-shot but if he excels in Traverse City at the Prospects Camp, has a solid training camp and shows his skills in the pre-season, it could be a thing.
Saad-Kurashev-Shaw? What say you?
Alexandre Nylander shows everyone why he was an 8th overall pick, makes team as a top 6 – This one shouldn't be that big of a surprise if it comes to fruition.
Nylander is standing out this week. Good. He has too. He has played 3 years of pro hockey.
I'm not sure if he players in the Prospect Tourney, but it's not out of the realm of possibility that he continues to play with a chip on his shoulder and produces in the preseason, securing a spot.
If Nylander can find some chemistry with Kane and Toews on the top line (LW) or with DeBrincat and Strome on the 2nd line (RW), Colliton might not have to look back.
It's all possible, however, the most surprising thing will be if he commits himself to a 200-foot game. That's how he'll land a spot in the top 6.
Adam Boqvist shows well in training camp, but heads to Rockford and stays there for the year – there has been a lot of chatter about Boqvist having an elevated confidence level and an increasing awareness to the defensive side of the puck.
Will it be enough though?
There is a good chance he's still not ready. Remember, he said himself just 13 months ago that his game is 2-3 years away.
I know the Hawks have put a lot of resources towards expediting the Boqvist-era, but some things you cannot force. Brian Campbell can't play the games for him; Boqvist will need to figure out his own path and it might take another year to breakthrough.
Nicolas Beaudin surprises and ends up with an extended stay with Blackhawks – I don't anticipate this happening out of camp unless there is an injury.
However, Beaudin is the less-sexy pick of 4… errr… 3 horsemen that is making an impression with his 2-way game.
Beaudin will be just a phone call away and will get big minutes in Rockford. He could very well be the first call-up on the left-side if the Hawks come into some injuries or if the Hawks feel that they need more puck movement from the back end in their rotation.
MacKenzie Entwistle's determination and overall game lands him a spot on the opening night roster – this is another unlikely scenario due to the logjam, however, his game is something from a coach's dream.
Not to mention, he is been known to be extremely coachable.
He's big, he can skate, play physical, is versatile (wing or centre) and has a scoring touch.
If a couple of players go down or if Stan Bowman continues with his trade every 2 weeks, there might be a spot open up in the 13-14 forwards the Blackhawks select.
There's also a report that Kubalik would accept a demotion to Rockford, so if he doesn't impress and maybe he goes down. I don't anticipate that happening but that's what training camp and the preseason is for.
Kirby Dach wasn't on the list because I don't think it will be a shock either way if he makes the team or he heads back to the WHL. I think it's more of a 60/40 that he heads back to the Saskatoon Blades at this point, however, I wouldn't be surprised if the Hawks allow him to stick with the team – for a 9 game trial at least.
Be sure to catch the scrimmage live today on ChicagoBlackhawks.com. I wouldn't expect too much, but at least it'll be more entertaining than the 1-on-1 and 2-on-2 drills we've been watching clips of.
Lastly, I have one last note on Henri Jokiharju.
On the surface, this trade didn't make sense to me. That's why I've always thought there was something else going on.
I have heard that one of the reasons the Hawks wanted to move on from him was because, while he was open to feedback and coaching on the defensive side, he refused to listen to the staff on anything to do with his offensive game.
It is very concerning from a coaching staff when a player reacts like this. Not only would Jokiharju not accept this constructive criticism, but he was also actually defiant and took a stand against what they were saying.
This was evident in Chicago and Rockford. This obviously made it's way back to Stan Bowman. From there, it looks like the rest is history.
That's all I have for now.
See ya out there!