The forwards are a mixed bag
The forwards have been a mixed bag, but Philipp Kurashev should definitely be in the NHL. He, along with Brandon Hagel, probably stands out the most among the newer forwards. While it’s on the horizon, for now, the real issue may become what to do with the rookie center.
Before the proverbial stuff hit the fan with injuries and whatnot, Chicago’s center depth likely would have been (in descending order) Toews, Dach, Strome. Kampf. That order may persist into next year which may push Kurashev out to the wing which isn’t his natural position. For now, Kurashev is absolutely taking advantage of the playing time he’s getting and is proving every game he gets that he should have a place on the roster.
By contrast, Pius Suter has been good but kind of vanishes a bit during games, only to all of a sudden make quality plays here and there. Yes, he did have a hat-trick against Detroit, but aside from that, he has three points in the other 10 games he’s been in. What’s more, his play is inconsistent, and even the metrics back up that he’s not necessarily excelling when he’s on the ice.
The idea that he be played all season to only score 15-20 points seems more and more possible with each game. He’s looking like bottom-six depth, something Chicago has an apparent abundance of at the moment. The scoring touch he had in the Swiss-league doesn’t appear to have followed him to North America, but it’s still early in the season and this could quickly change. He’s shown enough so far skill to be considered differently than a fourth-line grinder such as Matthew Highmore.
Mattis Janmark has also been a surprise and a pleasant one at that. He’s an already proven NHL player, but he’s making positive contributions almost every time he’s on the ice. He works his butt off and makes stuff happen. He’s trying to do what he can in all zones to help Chicago win games, and it’s working even if the team doesn’t have the depth to compete with stronger opponents. Hopefully, his work ethic rubs off on the youngsters because he’s definitely being a great role model for the rookies.
We’ll have to wait and see how the season progresses, but everything is progressing well. The win column looks bad, but that was never the point this year. Chicago is aggressively appraising its depth, and the results have been positive.
This is exactly what this season should be used for, giving prospects and rookies ice-time. Despite everything, this proves to be an exciting year to see how some of these new players progress, and really demonstrate how they could be the start of a brighter future for the Blackhawks.