Although the Chicago Blackhawks lost to the Florida Panthers in overtime tonight, not all was doom and gloom. The ‘Hawks played their most competitive game of the season, and one of their highly-touted prospects reached an important milestone.
Forward Philipp Kurashev scored his first NHL goal tonight. He took a nice breakout pass across center ice and threw a shot on net from the high slot that beat Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky. The fluttering shot almost seemed to surprise the netminder, and he watched it sail past his glove to give the ‘Hawks a 4-3 lead (their first of the season), although the team did not stay out in front for long.
Kurashev, a native of Munsingen, Switzerland, was selected in the fourth round of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, going 120th overall. His selection by Chicago came following a stellar junior career for the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL. In three seasons with Quebec, he put up 179 points, including 69 goals.
In addition, Kurashev has represented his home country of Switzerland in a variety of international tournaments, including consecutive World Junior Championships in 2018 and 2019. While not the biggest player, at 6’0, 192 pounds, the youngster brings a flurry of skill to the Blackhawks. He is a quick-moving skater and strong puck sense. Hopefully, his goal tonight was a sign of things to come from the 21-year-old.
Is rookie Phillipp Kurashev’s goal a sign for more to come with the Blackhawks?
Back in September of 2019, writer Steven Ellis of The Hockey News commented on Kurashev’s performance in the Traverse City Prospect Tournament. Ellis noted that Kurashev showed great NHL upside while at the same time managing to fly under the radar a bit and that Chicago may have gotten a steal in the draft:
"He [Kurashev] twice led Quebec in scoring and would have done so in all three years had he not missed time in 2017-18. Kurashev has spent the past few years creating opportunities for his teammates without having the top tier help to push him to the next level."
Obviously, Kurashev’s NHL career is still extremely early. He has spent a decent amount of time with the Rockford Icehogs and helped to anchor their top six in 2019-20, scoring 19 points in 36 games. While the transition from the AHL to the NHL is not often an easy one, Kurashev has shown that he has enough talent to make the jump full time.
Welcome to the NHL, Philipp Kurashev, and hopefully your goal tonight was just the first of many. We’ll find out if he gets on the scoresheet again when the Blackhawks play their home opener this Friday, Jan. 22 against the Detroit Red Wings.