Chicago Blackhawks: 5 Takeaways from the Rookie Tournament
Phillip Danault plays like a leader.
The Blackhawks 2011 first round pick has made great strides in the past couple of years with the Rockford IceHogs, and this weekend, he has proven at yet another level that he can be a leader. He took the ice a few times with Ryan Van Stralen who was on a PTO, and also Ryan Hartman who is new to the AHL game. He set up Van Stralen with two goals in the first game against Toronto, and created plenty of chances for whoever he happened to be playing with.
Danault played with the Victoriaville Tigres of the QMJHL for four seasons, three of which, he was named captain. He was one of three players including McNeil and Garret Ross to be an alternate captain in the Rookie Tournament, and it will be interesting to see whether he wears the ‘A’ for the IceHogs as well.
Stephen Johns might not be NHL ready
One of college hockey’s best defensive defenseman was said to be ready for the NHL game coming off of his last season with Notre Dame. If one of the defenseman in Chicago were to get traded, Johns was supposed to be one of the guys in the running to take that spot. If this weekend’s tournament has proven anything, it is that Johns is not quite ready for that level of play yet.
Don’t get me wrong, he played well defensively, but there were just a few times that he managed to find himself totally and completely out of position. Whether he was too deep in the offensive zone, or trying to cover the wrong area on an opposition breakaway, he was simply out of position too many times.
In the college and AHL game, he might be able to get away with that, but at the NHL level, he nearly needs to be mistake free. Little mistakes like that can cost a lot of goals in the highest level of hockey. He will have to develop in Rockford until he breaks that habit before trying to vie for a spot with the Hawks.
Mac Carruth has a lot to improve on
The starting goalie for two out of the three games this weekend for the Hawks struggled at times, and let a few unnecessary shots go by him. Carruth spent most of last season with the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL, but also played in Rockford from time to time.
A lot of Hawks fans had high hopes after his final season with the Portland Winterhawks in which he went 30-7-2 in the regular season with a 2.06 Goals Against Average (GAA) and a .929 save percentage in the regular season as well as starting all 21 WHL playoff games, going 16-5 to lead the Winterhawks to the WHL Championship. During the playoff run, he had a 1.63 GAA and a .937 save percentage. He struggled during the Memorial Cup run (3-2, 3.61 GAA, .894 save percentage) which the Winterhawks lost in the final to the Halifax Mooseheads.
Since he has reached the professional level though, he has struggled greatly, including this weekend. Both games that he started, he allowed 4 goals in regulation, and came out with the loss in both.
Carruth has a lot to work on if he wants to be a solid goaltender one day, but for now, he will probably start most of his games with the Blackhawks new ECHL affiliate the Indy Fuel.
A lot of players showed great promise in the Rookie Tournament, and some slightly disappointed. We can only hope that the one’s who disappointed will develop the weak parts of their game, and the one’s who showed out, will continue to dazzle in Chicago for years to come.
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