Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks return from break to face Predators


Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks return from break to face Predators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Nashville Predators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Can top line build off monster game vs. Detroit?

This was one of our three things to watch against Detroit, and we're making it one again. The trio of Alex DeBrincat, Anthony Duclair and Jonathan Toews had a monster game in a 5-1 win over the Red Wings going into the All-Star break, combining for four goals and four assists. 

It was a much-needed offensive explosion for a team struggling to find the back of the net as of late. Will they lead the way again and pick up where they left off?

2. Artem Anisimov's role.

After missing nearly a month with an upper-body injury, Anisimov returned to the lineup for the final three games before the All-Star break but has seen his role diminish. While he's still on the power play, Anisimov is slotted in as the third-line center with Nick Schmaltz thriving in the second-line center role and it makes for a deeper lineup.

But Anisimov's ice time has decreased in each of the last three games, going from 15:30 to 13:39 to 13:33, the latter two of which are second- and third-fewest of the season, respectively. It'll be interesting to see whether the Schmaltz-Anisimov-Patrick Kane line will be reunited down the road if things go sideways or if the middle is permanently set for balance purposes.

3. P.K. Subban.

With a goal in three straight games, Subban has tied his career-long goal streak set back in the 2010-11 season when he scored three in a row against Carolina, New Jersey and Chicago. He's never had a four-game goal streak, so look for him to try to keep that going tonight.

He has 12 goals in 47 games this season, already surpassing the 10 goals he scored last year in 66 games. His career high is 15 set in 2014-15, which he did in 82 games. At this rate Subban is certainly on pace to break that mark.

NHL Draft Profile: F Andrei Svechnikov

NHL Draft Profile: F Andrei Svechnikov

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Andrei Svechnikov

Position: Right wing
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 188 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

"He thinks the game a couple steps ahead and will make decisions with or without the puck that not many can make. He's on a very powerful line but teams focus to stop him. He lets the play and pressure come to him, and he can survey the ice so well. The vision and smarts are impressive."

NHL player comparable: 

Fit for Blackhawks:

In TSN Bob McKenzie's latest final draft ranking, one scout told him that “Svechnikov may be closer to [Rasmus] Dahlin for No. 1 than the rest of the field is to Svechnikov." So yeah, Svechnikov is going second overall. The question is, will Carolina be the one making that pick?

Under new ownership and a new regime, the Hurricanes are open to just about anything. And the word is they won't be moving out of the second spot unless they're blown away by an offer. 

The Blackhawks have been connected with the Hurricanes because the latter possesses a ton of immediate assets, including Scott Darling, Justin Faulk and even Jeff Skinner, all of whom would be a significant upgrade for Chicago. Would it cost more to center a deal around any of those players or the No. 2 overall pick?

Svechnikov is one of probably two players who are absolutely ready to step into an NHL lineup right now. He would look tremendous on the right wing with Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad. But the price to pay just doesn't seem to be worth it.

NHL Draft Profile: D Adam Boqvist

NHL Draft Profile: D Adam Boqvist

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Adam Boqvist

Position: Defenseman
Height: 5-foot-11
Weight: 168 pounds
Shoots: Right

Scouting report:

"Boqvist is a finesse defenseman who is very skilled, possesses excellent vision and tons of talent. He is fun to watch and full of surprises on the ice. He often plays bigger than his size and skated in his first games with Sweden's Senior National Team in April."

NHL player comparable: Erik Karlsson

Fit for Blackhawks:

The Blackhawks would love to have Karlsson, who is probably being traded out of Ottawa this summer. Every team would love to have him. But that's not realistic for Chicago. So what if they drafted his potential mini me?

Boqvist is electric with the puck and has drawn comparisons to the Swedish defenseman as a best-case scenario.

There are two concerns, though. One is that he may need some time to develop at just 17 years old and his defense a work in progress. The second is that he's sustained head injuries over the course of his young career, which adds a little bit of risk to the equation.

If he can stay healthy and his development isn't rushed, there's major upside here. But are the Blackhawks willing to be patient? We're not so sure.