3 players who were the Chicago Blackhawks' biggest surprises this season

These players exceeded expectations on the Blackhawks roster
Colorado Avalanche v Chicago Blackhawks
Colorado Avalanche v Chicago Blackhawks / Michael Reaves/GettyImages
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Philipp Kurashev

In the years following being drafted by the Blackhawks in the fifth round of the 2018 NHL Draft, Philipp Kurashev was one of the more skilled forwards in the team's system. A strong junior career led him to a respectable rookie season with the Rockford IceHogs(AHL) in the 2019-20 season, which would be his only full season in the AHL.

After posting 16 points in 54 games during his rookie season in Chicago, Kurashev was seen as a player who had the potential to take the next step as an NHL scorer.

The next two seasons saw similar production from Kurashev, with the young forward producing 46 points over his next 137 games. Despite his lack of production, the Blackhawks coaching staff continued to hold out hope that Kurashev would find his offense at the NHL level. Last season saw improvements as Kurashev found more time playing on the team's top two lines and showed he could hold his own in a higher role.

Kurashev has found a home for himself on the Blackhawks top-line alongside Connor Bedard as an important member of the offense. In 71 games, Kurashev has tallied 17 goals and 52 points, surpassing a career-high in goals, assists, and points. He signed a two-year contract extension with the Blackhawks in the summer of 2023 with an average annual salary of 2.25 million dollars per year.

With the way Kurashev has played this season, he will be due a pay raise at the end of his current contract. At 24 years-old, he is still at the very beginning of his NHL career and could become a mainstay in the Blackhawks top-six for the foreseeable future.