Connor Bedard has been nothing short of a human highlight reel since entering the league. He's a bright spot on a lackluster roster the entire season up until the injury against New Jersey.
In his absence, I've resorted to honing in on other players. On offense and defense, with or without the puck. Here's what I've noticed so far.
We've got some fun guys in this group. I've got a few names here that won't show up on the scoresheet very often, but still make for some entertaining hockey when 98 isn't on the ice.
The former seventh-round pick has played in a little under half of our games, but he's been noticeable in almost all of them. He has five points on the season, three of which came a few contests ago against Calgary, and has seen increased ice time since the Devils matchup.
My first big Blackwell sighting was against Montreal. I'm sure a few of you remember his nifty spin that put a defender on his rear and the dish to Jason Dickinson (a name that may or may not be mentioned later on this list), but he also made the initial defensive play to start the rush in the first place.
He made a play on the puck to force an errant pass that was taken in the other direction which led to the goal. I've seen multiple defensive efforts like this across his 14 games this year and has had some strong offensive showings as well.
Once again, Cole is a guy who won't show up on the stat sheet often, but you will always notice him out there due to his agile skating. Even with just eight points (four goals, four assists) in 25 games this year, Guttman has shown his impact goes beyond just putting pucks into the net.
In the Hawks' most recent game, Guttman had the lone regulation goal in a 2-1 shootout win against the San Jose Sharks. He's been thrown onto the power play unit with all the injuries to the Hawks and finally cashed in.
He's been an aggressor on forechecks and is quick to get back on defense as well. Guttman is a relatively quick skater as well which makes the aggressive forechecks possible and less risky for the defense.
Amid a career year, Dickinson earned a two-year $4.25 AAV extension with the Hawks. I love the extension and it shows that GM Kyle Davidson likes the culture that is being built with the guys currently in the locker room.
He has already topped his career high in goals scored in a single season and is on pace to break his career high of points in a season. Jason has generated multiple highlight plays, including a hat trick goal against Toronto back in November.
I came into the year hoping for some wingers to emerge with the presence of Bedard, but the big surprise wasn't a winger at all. Dickinson was an under-the-radar player before this season and has now solidified himself as a good piece for this franchise going forward.
These three guys aren't superstars by any means, but contending teams need players like this at the bottom of their lineup to get hard, greasy minutes out of to set the tone and generate some momentum in crucial games.