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We can workshop the title a bit, but heading into Friday night’s opening game of the Tom Kurvers Prospect Showcase between the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild, there was plenty of intrigue about the group on the ice for Chicago. Given the openness of competition amongst the young players and the chance to make a big impression on new GM Kyle Davidson, this was the first real opportunity against real opponents for the Blackhawks farm system to shine.
Here are Three “Hawks Hits” from Friday night.
Lukas Reichel and Colton Dach provide injury scares
Tell me if you’ve heard this before: Blackhawks roughed up against Wild in prospect exhibition game.
Yeah, that’s happened before and it wasn’t long ago. If you’ll remember, the 2019 Traverse City tournament saw a number of Blackhawks prospects, Kirby Dach included, roughed up and taken out of a tournament game against the Wild prospects. It was a ridiculous affair to watch and Friday night showed shades of that 2019 contest.
Early in the second period, Lukas Reichel took a hit from behind from Adam Beckman and went hard into the boards. Ethan Del Mastro came to the defense of Reichel against Beckman, but ended up on top of Reichel in the process. The 2020 first-round pick was able to make it back to the Blackhawks bench on his own, but headed down the tunnel to the locker room. Thankfully, he returned for the third period. So a collective sigh of relief was heard around the Fifth Third Arena.
Unfortunately, also making an exit from the game was 2021 second-round pick Colton Dach. After scoring just 23 seconds into the game, Dach did not take a shift and was not on the bench to begin the second period for the Blackhawks.
The injury to Dach was labeled as upper body but head coach Anders Sorensen didn’t have any updates following the game. Reichel was able to return to the game in the third period and was held back in the second for precautionary reasons according to Sorensen. We’ll monitor those two as Sunday afternoon’s game is set for a 1:00 p.m. CT start.
Cole Guttman shines in first Blackhawks action
On a more positive note, one of the newest Blackhawks prospects, former Denver University Captain Cole Guttman made a major first impression on Friday night. Following a fruitful NCAA career, the 2022 National Champion is coming to the Blackhawks organization with a fresh start and a major chance to start his professional career off on the right foot. A former draft pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Guttman scored in the second period on a great feed from Josiah Slavin to give the Chicago prospects a 2-0 lead at the time.
Guttman wasn’t in Blackhawks prospect camp earlier this summer, signing his entry-level deal in mid-August, so the Tom Kurvers Prospect Showcase is his opportunity to make a first impression on the Rockford IceHogs coaching staff running the team during the showcase and on fresh GM Kyle Davidson.
Speed and feistiness reign supreme
Kyle Davidson came into his role as Blackhawks GM with a clear style of team he wants to build. The new-look Blackhawks under Davidson will look to bring a ton of speed and physicality to the table night-in and night-out. From the first draft class under Davidson, those prospects’ best traits all were either their speed or their competitiveness.
It was evident on Friday night.
Paul Ludwinski, Kevin Korchinski, Samuel Savoie, and Ethan Del Mastro, to name just a few, all brought a mixture of those two skill-sets to the ice. Once upon a time, the Blackhawks were trying to be built with speed and skill, but it led to more physical teams being able to shut them down on a more regular basis. The new vision for the Blackhawks this season and well beyond is to be the hardest team to play against. It doesn’t have to be by brute strength, but by their work ethic, speed, and physical edge. The skill players will come along, but it was good to see a glimpse go the base-layer for the next generation of Blackhawks on Friday night.
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