A pair of games in the Tom Kurvers Prospect Showcase eased the insatiable appetite of the most ardently enthusiastic and hockey starved Chicago Blackhawks fans.
Superlatives aside, Connor Bedard essentially answered any remaining questions on whether or not he was the real deal (he is). Nolan Allan and Kevin Korchinski looked terrific. Ethan Del Mastro had a strong pair of games. Wyatt Kaiser and Drew Commesso both had a great solo game. Colton Dach bagged a couple goals in as many games. Don’t forget Martin Misiak and Nick Lardis, both getting goals as well.
A rundown of how they played and what it showed.
Blackhawks Defensemen Making a Case to Play in Chicago
I’m aware it’s a short look and one that doesn’t include veteran NHL’ers or guys playing professional hockey for years. But the Blackhawks should be encouraged by the growth of their players.
The Korchinski-Allan pairing was strong, and at times seemed to shift in terms of their usual roles on the blue line–astutely pointed out by the Hockey Writer’s Brooke LoFurno using a terrific movie reference:
I feel like Korchinski and Allan did a Freaky Friday & swapped traits. Allan is usually the physical one, yet Korchinski had someone pinned in the corner. Then Allan has been super active on offense, which is normally Korchinski’s strength. I’m enjoying it. It works. #Blackhawks
— Brooke (@brooke_lofo) September 17, 2023
She’s not wrong. Allan was jumping up more on the play, sending a nifty little pass to Seattle and future Rockford teammate Dach that the latter buried for a goal. How about the fisticuffs, too? A man for all seasons in pair of games–the snarl standing out.
Korchinski stayed true to his tendency to jump up on the play and though he a poor pass, he chased down the breakaway and did enough to disrupt the golden scoring chance. Korchinski had one slick pass after another, and ripped a shot from the point that Misiak redirected for a goal.
My argument for Korchinski being added to the roster for opening night remains fervent. Entry-level slide be damned–let him have the chance.
Kaiser and Del Mastro always seem to be in the right spot. They’re sneaky good, making those little chip plays or creating an offensive chance after breaking up a play in their own end. Kaiser should get a strong look as well for opening night–and real minutes during the preseason to see if he can shoulder the load. Del Mastro and Allan will both start in Rockford–but it may not be very long before the conversation shifts to them potentially pushing into pairings in Chicago.
How About Up Front?
Let’s start with Bedard. There’s not much to say other than he’s exactly what everyone hoped for. In the one game he played he looked like a man among boys. Especially the shot.
Lardis was everywhere on Sunday, scoring right out of the box, and always being involved in the play somehow. So too, was Dach. Dach’s two goals in as many days as well along with his physical was a continuation of what he showed in Seattle. Just like the WHL playoffs, Dach got stronger with each game.
Wouldn’t it be something if it ends up being Colton, and not Kirby, who sticks in Chicago?
Misiak, the top pick in the CHL Import Draft, looked very comfortable centering a line with Dach and Lardis. A strong season with the Erie Otters is expected, and Chicago has time to let Misiak develop.
In the Net
Sunday’s feature on Commesso stated pretty much the case with him–everything’s he’s spoken of with his regimen and routine seemingly centers itself around the calm and consistency he exudes. It was present in the shutout on Saturday, and quietly, the Boston University standout has a chance to really state his case for Chicago this season with a strong showing in Rockford.