Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks: The Tomas Jurco Experiment

By Juliana Nikac
Feb 26, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Tomas Jurco (13) with the puck during the first period against the St. Louis Blues at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 26, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Tomas Jurco (13) with the puck during the first period against the St. Louis Blues at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /
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Since the Chicago Blackhawks acquired him, Tomas Jurco has no points in six games played. Is it time to end the experiment?

On February 24th, the Chicago Blackhawks traded a 2017 3rd round pick to the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for forward Tomas Jurco. In the 159 games Jurco played prior to coming to the Blackhawks, he had 39 points. Not just in one season of his NHL career, but in all four seasons  combined. He had a rough start to his career with the Red Wings, but was phenomenal for their AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins. Red Wings GM Ken Holland claimed that Jurco needed a change of scenery.

“Obviously, things haven’t worked out in Detroit the last couple of months,” Holland said. “He’s been very frustrated and requested a change of scenery, and his agent has been calling me. His contract was up, and we didn’t know if he was intending on staying with us. It’s a great opportunity for Tomas in Chicago, and we move on.”

Jurco struggled for a long time when he was in Detroit. Holland was being lenient when stating things hadn’t worked out for the past few months. Jurco’s highest point total in all of his seasons with the Red Wings was 18 points in his sophomore year. The expectations for his guy were high by the entire organization. He was playing phenomenal in the AHL, but just couldn’t seem to put it together for Detroit. Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman sees a lot that he likes about Jurco, despite all of this.

“This is a player we’ve been talking about for quite a while and had our eye on, even going back previous years watching his style of play,” Bowman said. “He’s a big kid, he’s got a lot of skill, speed, and plays a style that works well with the way we play. We’re excited about his contributions here and the potential for what he can become once he gets acclimated.”

According to NHL.com, Jurco is 6’2” and 188 lbs. He’s not exactly a big kid strength wise, but he’s got the height and the ability to skate. Coach Quenneville first experimented with him on the third line with Marian Hossa and Marcus Kruger. In this first game, he played decently. He wasn’t a standout, but he wasn’t terrible by any means. After his first game, Jurco has somewhat disappeared on the ice. He hasn’t had a point so far in the six games he has played. He actually doesn’t have a point at all this season. Lately, he’s been paired with Tanner Kero and Hossa, and that line hasn’t produced offensively. In fact, the fourth line has more points that the supposed third line does.

Since Jurco’s been in the lineup, Andrew Desjardins and Dennis Rasmussen have been the ones on the outside looking in. Maybe Q is just trying to give him a chance, but both of those guys should have a spot in the lineup over Jurco. Bowman didn’t give up a lot for him, but unless he starts to produce soon, the trade is going to end up being pointless. Truthfully, there are just other players that deserve to be in the lineup over him. Rasmussen is a great defensive player who can contribute every so often. And we all know what Desjardins brings to the table. And even Vinnie Hinostroza, who’s doing great with Rockford so far, may deserve a spot over Jurco.

On the flip side, he has only played six games with the team so far. That’s kind of a small sample size for someone who’s still getting used to a brand new atmosphere. Change doesn’t happen in an instant, unfortunately. However, how much time do you give him to try and produce even just a fraction? The Blackhawks knew what his statistics before they traded him. I don’t know if they expected anything to change dramatically, and who knows if Jurco’s going to change at all as a player.

Have six games been enough to decide to end the Tomas Jurco experiment? Should the Blackhawks continue to keep him in the lineup to give him a chance? Honestly, it’s hard to decide. As much as you may want to give a guy another opportunity to prove himself as a player, it’s hard to be playing someone who isn’t producing when there are at least two other forwards that could be playing how Jurco is playing, and possibly even better. As fans, we all want some kind of magical story to flourish in this situation. But in this case, Jurco might simply be once a highly-touted player turned bust.

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