Five Reasons Chicago Blackhawks Fans Should Be Excited For The 2018-19 Season (Part II)

KELOWNA, BC - OCTOBER 20: Henri Jokiharju
KELOWNA, BC - OCTOBER 20: Henri Jokiharju /
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 No. 3: The Youth Movement

Though the Chicago Blackhawks failed to make any big splashes in the off-season this summer, they still have help on the way.

In addition to Cam Ward, the Blackhawks also signed Brandon Manning and Chris Kunitz. Kunitz will likely take over the veteran role played most recently by Patrick Sharp last season. Additionally, Kunitz could add scoring to a likely bottom-six role.

Manning, a 28-year old left-handed defensemen, is coming off his best season to date with the Philadelphia Flyers. In 65 games, Manning had a career-best seven goals and 12 assists.

While there’s a very real possibility that both Manning and Kunitz could do very well this year, chances are that the youth movement will continue to grow and these guys will fall into the cracks.

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As far as aide goes on defense, the discussion begins with Henri Jokiharju. He’s made some major strides since the Blackhawks selected him in the first round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. During Chicago’s 2018 development camp, Jokiharju seemed to take multiple steps forward in his development. His offensive game was on full display throughout the entirety of camp.

Additionally, here’s Jokiharju leading a 2 on 1 drill.

Defensively, Henri took strides as well. Here’s a pretty slick poke check from him during the two on two rush drills.

For more on Jokiharju in prospect camp, check the story here.

Additionally on the defensive side, Gustav Forsling (22), Blake Hillman (22), Dennis Gilbert (21), and Ian Mitchell (19) all look as if they can compete for a legitimate roster spot sooner rather than later.

Offensively,  Alex DeBrincat (20) and Nick Schmaltz (22) both look poised totake yet another step this year after impressive showings last season. Furthermore, Dylan Sikura (23), David Kampf (23), Victor Ejdsell (23), Matthew Highmore (22), Graham Knott (21) and Alexandre Fortin (21), are all guys who will be competing for roster spots and could make a difference.

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Victor Ejdsell is one in particular who could have a real impact next season (story).

When considering these names, choosing who will step up next year as an impact player feels a bit like throwing a dart in the dark. However, this year that isn’t a bad problem to have. Instead of the Michal Rozsivals of the world taking the bottom pairing defensive roles, young talent is now competing to take over. Additionally, the forward prospects are not only fighting for roster spots, but young guns like DeBrincat and Schmaltz are leading us in the right direction.

So, although the light at the end of the tunnel may seem faint, the Chicago Blackhawks have help on the way.

Next. Chicago Blackhawks Versus The Central Division (Part II). dark

Question is: who will be the ones to make a difference?