The Seattle Thunderbirds play the Quebec Remparts Sunday night for the WHL Memorial Cup. The Seattle Thunderbirds have three players who look to contribute to the Chicago Blackhawks in the future: Kevin Korchinski, Colton Dach and Nolan Allan. Are any of these three ready to join the Hawks next season, or do they need more time to develop? Here are three takeaways from the championship game.
Leading the group of Chicago Prospects is defenseman Kevin Korchinski. He had 73 points in 54 games. Through the playoffs, Korchinski has 14 points in 19 games. He is a strong skater with great instincts, moves the puck well and can put it on his teammates stick in position to score. Of the three, he is most likely to make a move up. Chicago definitly wants to be careful here and not rush his development; he is still only 18. However, Korchinski has dominated for two straight seasons in the WHL; leaving him there could stall development if he isn't challenged enough.
Joining Korchinski on the Thunderbirds is Centerman Colton Dach, brother of Kirby who recently played for the Blackhawks. In 2021-2022, Dach put up awesome numbers, notching 79 points in 61 games. This past year, his game time has been limited due to shoulder injury. He played 14 points for Kelowna before joining Seattle for nine games. In those 23 games, Dach put up 27 points, continuing his better than point per game average. Through the 2023 playoffs, Dach has 14 points in 19 games. He looks ready to make the next step, perhaps a trip to Rockford is in his near future.
Finally, Nolan Allan is the third Blackhawk on Seattle. Allan's numbers aren't as prolific as the other two, but he is quite capable of putting the puck in the net. In 2021-2022, he tallied 41 points in 65 games. Allan is more of a shutdown defender than Korchinski, but does have a big shot from the blueline. He isn't known for speed, but puts himself in great position to make plays.
So, how did the boys fare tonight? Well, they lost the Memorial Cup 5-0, but the future is still bright. A few takeaways.
1. Nolan Allan will be the shutdown defenseman that Blackhawks have been looking for. As I mentioned above, Allan is not a huge scorer and does not need to be to be effective for the Blackhawks. He is positionally sound, always in position and excellent defending with his stick. Throughout the game, Allan logged a lot of minutes alongside Korchinski, who is constantly jumping into the play. He understands his role and plays sound defense. Additionally, Nolan does an excellent job on the penalty kill. He stays home and keeps the crease clear. He understands how not to get stuck below the goal line. Incidentally, the goal against that he was on the ice for was largely due to a lack of commitment from Korchinski. Allan is going to be a great penalty killer and second line defenseman for the Hawks.
2. Kevin Korchinski is super talented, but very much his age. It's clear that he is fast. He definitely pushes the puck up ice quickly. He has great vision is always looking to make a great pass. However, he struggles with decision making. In this game, he made some errant passes and no look passes that were intercepted and went the other way. On defense, he was part of three breakaways against. Each time, he was caught looking, not committing to the puck or pass. The final one came on a shorthanded goal for Quebec. These things come with time and experience which leads me to believe that some time in Rockford will be the answer.
3. Colton Dach had a fairly non-descript game. As a team, Seattle was outplayed and rarely put themselves in position to score. As such, Dach's game was fairly invisible. However, while Quebec was the more physical team, Dach showed that he was not afraid to mix it up. He was forechecking and battling the boards. He is known for his shot, but I really liked his overall game. The offense isn't always there, but there is no reason that the defense and the passion to play can't be there every night. Dach showed that in these finals.