Blackhawks

Alexandre Fortin passes latest test with Blackhawks

Alexandre Fortin passes latest test with Blackhawks

The fact that Alexandre Fortin, who went from prospect camp invite to signed player, is still at Blackhawks training camp speaks volumes for how he’s impressed the team.

His line mates in Tuesday’s game confirmed it a little more.

Fortin started with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov when the Blackhawks beat the Detroit Red Wings 6-1 on Tuesday night. It was a good night for the forward, who scored a third-period goal and recorded an assist on Richard Panik’s power-play goal.

While he said Tuesday morning that he’d be fighting nerves playing with some of the Blackhawks’ best, Fortin didn’t look it come game time.

“I think that I was a little bit more calm. Kane and Anisimov talked to me before the game (to) just play my game and everything's going to be all right,” Fortin said after the game. “It's hard. It's a lot of pressure to play with two very good guys. It's stress, it's a lot of stress. But I just have to play my game and every shift that I'm doing, I'm just more comfortable and it's what I did tonight.”

Part of the Fortin promotion is coach Joel Quenneville still tinkering with lines, trying things out. But Fortin has been impressive in every situation in which he’s been thrown, and he earned a chance with Kane and Anisimov.

“You certainly like his speed, I think that’s the thing you notice right off the bat,” Quenneville said. “He’s got good patience and play recognition. He played with a couple of players who are definitely special in a lot of ways, so it was a different type of line he was with. He wasn’t too intimidated by their presence. So I commend him on handling that situation as well.”

What will the Blackhawks do with Fortin? He very well could start the season on the roster, but would it be for long. If Fortin played in more than nine games, the first year of his entry-level deal would be burned. The Blackhawks faced a similar situation with Brandon Saad at the start of the 2011-12 season. Saad played in the first two regular-season games before being sent back to the Saginaw Spirit; the Blackhawks recalled Saad for the playoffs that season.

[MORE BLACKHAWKS: Duncan Keith has two assists in preseason debut]

Then again, if Fortin’s current work translates into early regular-season games, the Blackhawks may be tempted to keep him longer. Regardless, there’s no doubt the Blackhawks like what they’ve seen in Fortin. The forward has talked about how much his life has changed in just these past few months. It’s all been good, and the future should be positive, too.

“Certainly to forecast down the road, it’s encouraging,” Quenneville said of Fortin. “Certainly we have some real tough decisions to make, and he’s one of the guys that’s making it interesting.”

Notes:

  • Referee TJ Luxmore was down briefly after taking a redirected puck off his leg. He finished the game.
  • Corey Crawford is scheduled to play the Blackhawks’ entire preseason finale on Saturday against the St. Louis Blues.
  • Quenneville said the Blackhawks could keep 23 players on the roster to start the regular season.

NHL Draft Profile: F Brady Tkachuk

NHL Draft Profile: F Brady Tkachuk

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

Brady Tkachuk

Position: Forward
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 196 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

"I know Tkachuk isn't a center, but Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks) is another player who comes to mind with his combination of size, strength, skill and nastiness. Tkachuk has impressive hand skills and his upside has only begun because I think there's lots of maturity and growth to come. I've seen his speed and skating improve each of the past three years and I think he'll still get stronger and his balance will get better. His man strength will come and it'll be like, 'Oh boy, look out.'"

NHL player comparable: Matthew Tkachuk/Wayne Simmonds

Fit for Blackhawks:

If you're looking for a player that checks all the boxes in this year's draft, it's Tkachuk. And man could the Blackhawks use a player like him.

He's got offensive skill, willingly goes to the greasy areas, can provide net-front presence while playing a top-six role, and perhaps the most important part for the Blackhawks: he's very close to NHL ready. The Blackhawks will be patient with whoever they draft, but there's also some urgency to turn things around in 2018-19.

If they can draft a player like Tkachuk who can potentially jump into the lineup as early as this upcoming season, that would be ideal. Because he's the type of player that can make an impact, not just get by.

NHL Draft Profile: D Quinn Hughes

NHL Draft Profile: D Quinn Hughes

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

Quinn Hughes

Position: Defenseman
Height: 5-foot-10
Weight: 170 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

"He's got the puck skills, is a good skater, and is a guy with some high-end offensive talent. He wants to get right in there and play where it's hard and where you get rewarded. When he gets that puck on his stick, he wants to bury it."

NHL player comparable: Torey Krug/Kris Letang

Fit for Blackhawks:

It's no secret the Blackhawks are looking to restock their pipeline with some high-end defensemen. Henri Jokiharju and Ian Mitchell are on the way. But the former isn't a lock to be a full-time NHLer this season and the latter will continue playing in college for the 2018-19 season.

Hughes, who shined at Michigan and the IIHF World Championship with Team USA, would have the best chance of the three to crack the Blackhawks lineup first. The problem is, he likely won't be available at No. 8, so if Hughes is the guy they're locked in on, they'd need to trade up to grab him. 

If they did that, Hughes would give the Blackhawks a third blue line prospect they can get excited about. He's a left-handed shot, which evens out the balance in the system, and he would become a prime candidate to eventually replace Duncan Keith as the team's No. 1 defenseman.