Blackhawks

Blackhawks switch up practice; Keith optimistic

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Blackhawks switch up practice; Keith optimistic

Duncan Keith returned to practice on Monday and is very optimistic hell play on Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues.

It was a day full of changes for the Blackhawks, who switched up lines and defensive pairings while welcoming Keith back. Keith (left hand) participated for the first time since sustaining his injury against the Nashville Predators last Monday.

It felt good to be back out there with the guys and getting some drills in again, he said. Things are definitely better than I expected and I think its gotten a lot better for sure.

The Blackhawks practiced special teams after Sunday nights 6-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks, who scored five power-play goals. They also switched a few things up on Monday. Michael Frolik skated with Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews on the top line, while Rostislav Olesz practiced with Dave Bolland and Andrew Brunette on the reconfigured checking line.

Coach Joel Quenneville said it was likely Olesz would play Tuesday, too. Daniel Carcillo was back with Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane and Viktor Stalberg was on the fourth line with Marcus Kruger and Jamal Mayers.

Defensive pairings were also shuffled, with Keith and Brent Seabrook together again. Niklas Hjlamarsson and Nick Leddy were paired, as were Sami Lepisto and Sean ODonnell, and Steve Montador and John Scott.

Last nights game gets your attention in a lot of ways, Quenneville said. You dont mind making changes on a merit basis. Guys will get different opportunities and get a chance to enhance the opportunity going forward.

Corey Crawford will start against the Blues.

NHL Draft Profile: D Evan Bouchard

NHL Draft Profile: D Evan Bouchard

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

Evan Bouchard

Position: Defenseman
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 193 pounds
Shoots: Right

Scouting report:

"A highly intelligent defenseman with exceptional vision and offensive instincts. He reads the play very well and his passing ability allows him to be a constant threat in his team's transition game. He's one of the top offensive-defenseman in the Canadian Hockey League and magician-like when quarterbacking the power play."

NHL player comparable: John Carlson/Alex Pietrangelo

Fit for Blackhawks:

At 6-foot-2, 193 pounds, Bouchard is one of the most NHL-ready defensemen in this year's draft and that could be appetizing for a team like the Blackhawks, who are looking for immediate help on the blue line. But Bouchard is a right-handed shot, and drafting him would add a third high-end right-handed shot defenseman to the organization, along with prospects Henri Jokiharju and Ian Mitchell.

You can never have enough of them, but there's only room for three before somebody would have to play on their off hand and that would mean the third would be playing on the bottom pairing. All three of these players have Top 4 potential.

Still, that may not even come into play here. The Blackhawks will seek to take the best available player, like they always have. And if they feel it's Bouchard, they'll do it.

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.