The Blackhawks hit the one-month mark of the season on Sunday and find themselves outside of a playoff spot with a 6-6-3 record (15 points). They've dropped five in a row (0-4-1) after starting the season 6-2-2, and have scored only six goals in their past four games.
Despite having 46 goals on the season, which ranks sixth in the NHL, the Blackhawks' 3.07 goals-per-game average is 18th and they've gotten 59 percent of their scoring from three players: Patrick Kane (11), Alex DeBrincat (8) and Jonathan Toews (8). The depth scoring simply hasn't been there and the top line with DeBrincat and Toews has dried up a bit offensively, scoring a combined five goals in their last 10 games following a scorching start where they combined for 11 goals in their first five contests.
That said, is it time for the Blackhawks to call up top forward prospect Dylan Sikura?
Through 12 games in the American Hockey League, he leads the Rockford IceHogs with 10 points (four goals, six assists) and 44 shots on goal. He scored his second goal in his past three games on Sunday, which was a back-to-back-to-back stretch.
This is about the time where the Blackhawks felt they had seen enough from Nick Schmaltz in 2016-17, when he got sent to Rockford for a month to gain confidence and fine-tune his game. Schmaltz compiled nine points (six goals, three assists) and registered 32 shots on goal in 12 games, earning him a call-up to Chicago.
It took Vinnie Hinostroza 22 games for the Blackhawks to bring him to the big club last season, but that was in large part because of roster numbers and not having the ability to assign a player to Rockford without having to go through the waiver process.
Both Hinostroza and Schmaltz came back different players and, most importantly, they haven't been back in the AHL since.
That's what the Blackhawks are hoping to accomplish with Sikura.
The Blackhawks won't call up Sikura if he's not quite ready, even if he may be the best and quickest solution to their secondary scoring problems. They want him to stay in Rockford for as long as he needs to until he's ready to return to the NHL full-time and be confident in his game and the system.
If that's right now, you do it. If it's not, you wait patiently and continue to tinker with the lines you have now. Because once Sikura is called up, the goal is for him to stay up.
Fortunately for the Blackhawks, the answer appears to be closer to the former than the latter.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.