It’s been a few weeks since an edition of the Chicago Blackhawks Stock Index–but there’s certainly been a number of interesting revelations in those weeks. Namely, Philipp Kurashev who’s been playing at nearly a point-per-game rate since coming back to the Blackhawks after starting the season with an ankle injury. Not bad for the 23-year-old who went to an arbitration hearing with Chicago in the summer.
So far, he’s been worth every penny. But how about some of the guys who are holding or unfortunately, falling?
A look at three of the younger players who have been rising, holding, and
Risers – Philipp Kurashev
With four goals and eight assists, Kurashev has been a great addition to the top line with Connor Bedard and also a hope that Lukas Reichel could get jumpstarted offensively as well. Though he was left off the scoresheet in Sunday’s loss to St. Louis, he was still active and provided some of Chicago’s better chances.
Pairing him with Bedard has been good for both and according to Natural Stat Trick, they’ve combined for nine goals while at 5v5. To put that into perspective, it’s accounted for 18.4% of their scoring this season. Take out the six power play and one short handed goals and it’s right at 21.4%..
He’s second in the team in points, trailing only Bedard. In short, he’s been one of more consistent Blackhawks and could be one of the bigger risers this season, blowing past expectations if he keeps at this pace.
Holding – Kevin Korchinski
His performance on Sunday certainly had some hiccups but what else to expect from a young defenseman? Head coach Luke Richardson talked specifically to what happened on both goals against where Korchinski was a factor. The first he attributed a bit to Korchinski overplaying and learning that his speed won’t always be able to bail him out. The second goal, which was St. Louis’ fourth goal, well, it was just one of those plays.
“He just missed it, and then they made a quick play,” Richardson said of the puck that rolled on Korchinski on the boards. “I think Kurshy was going in to help him if he got pinched up there and then obviously they just made a play to a wide open guy. Things just didn’t go Kevin’s way tonight but he had a great finish last game and he’s a young guy–he’s got to bounce back last game.”
Of course, Korchinski played extremely well on Friday, making two dynamite plays to disrupt Toronto scoring chances in overtime before potting the game winner.
The 19-year-old has six points (2-4) in 19 games so far. If there’s anything Korchinski has shown, it’s a knack for learning quickly and applying it later. It’s why he’s up with the big club and not back in the Western Hockey League.
Falling – Lukas Reichel
On a couple occasions during the Blackhawks loss Sunday afternoon, Reichel just didn’t look to be at his best. A couple times he failed to corral a puck that could have led to a scoring chance and on another, he impeded Kurashev on a play behind the net that again, just slowed momentum.
As Nick Foligno pointed out postgame, they’re nearly 20 games in and with every passing game that doesn’t result in maybe more output, it sure looks as if Reichel is succumbing to frustration that’s taking a toll on his overall game. With just a goal in 19 games and only four points, he’s far below the pace he enjoyed last season with 15 points in 23 games.
Now, that’s tough because there was a ton of potential there and Reichel moving to the first line and power play unit were supposed to help. While there certainly were some good performances in their first game as a unit, they’re drawing every team’s best and that means, in the words of Richardson, that they have to rise to it.
“But I think we need guys to step up,” Richardson said. “I think if we go into a long stretch or pattern, we have to make adjustments and people have to wait their turn and try to give them a bit of a wake-up call. And then, there are other guys who maybe have to push their limits a little more.”
It might time for Reichel to push his limits a bit more as his wake-up call may be the end of his time on the top line.