NHL hockey is finally back, and preseason action is here! This means that many teams across the league will be testing out their rookies and fresh new faces to see what works.
The Chicago Blackhawks are no exception to this, as they played their first preseason game tonight at the United Center against the Detroit Red Wings, losing in the shootout 4-3. While the majority of the roster remained relatively familiar, there were a still number of new jerseys on the ice, giving fans their first glance at some highly-anticipated players.
The spotlight was definitely on 2020 first-round draft pick Lukas Reichel. The 19-year-old forward impressed fans and the coaching staff alike during the team’s rookie showcase against the Minnesota Wild. It was well known that the youngster was extremely skilled, and while he was originally projected to go in the second round of his draft class, he proved that he is ready to take a crack at an NHL roster.
In the game against the Red Wings, Reichel was paired on the third line with Henrik Borgström and Alex Nylander. While he did not register any points in tonight’s loss, he continued to show off his great playmaking abilities, pressing on the forecheck all game and scoring a nifty tally in the shootout. Additionally, he drew a penalty and helped the team play all night in 16:18 of ice time. Where Reichel’s game goes from here remains to be seen (although it’s basically a guarantee that he’ll get some more preseason action) but one thing is for sure- he’s a fun player to watch.
Speaking of Henrik Borgström, the 24-year-old Finn also made his debut for the Blackhawks tonight. While he is not a rookie, he only has 58 games of NHL experience under his belt, and the former University of Denver standout was likely eager to prove his worth. Skating on the line with Reichel and Nylander, he also made his presence felt tonight.
While he was also held off the scoresheet, Borgström registered 3 shots on goal and had a decent faceoff percentage of 47. Jonathan Toews won’t be in the league forever, so having someone up the middle that can win draws is certainly nice. Overall, while he might not have had an outstanding game, Borgström showed that he has a nose for the net that could prove to be a useful addition in the future, and at his age, still has a tremendous amount of upside in him.
There were a number of other new faces on the ice tonight, many of whom will likely be seen in upcoming regular season games. Caleb Jones made his ‘Hawks debut and played well on the penalty kill while also recording an assist. Jujhar Khaira, a free agent pickup over the summer, knew his assignment and threw his weight around a ton, registering seven hits and also scoring a goal.
It will be interesting to see where the preseason goes from here. The lines will likely be juggled around, as they always are during these games. We’ll find out where the roster stands this Friday when the Blackhawks drop the puck against the St. Louis Blues in their second preseason tilt.