Blackhawks

Blackhawks: Trevor van Riemsdyk 'real close' to returning

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Blackhawks: Trevor van Riemsdyk 'real close' to returning

TAMPA, Fla. – Trevor van Riemsdyk will not play in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final but there’s a good chance he’ll play at some point in this series.

Van Riemsdyk, who hasn’t played in an NHL game since November, is “real close” and could get into the lineup during against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Van Riemsdyk had an outside chance of getting into the Western Conference Final but it never materialized. David Rundblad and Kyle Cumiskey have been the Blackhawks’ fifth and sixth defensemen the past two games.

[MORE: Five storylines to follow during Blackhawks-Lightning series]

While van Riemsdyk played with the Rockford IceHogs this past spring, he hasn’t been part of the Blackhawks’ lineup since mid-November. He suffered a fractured patella against the Dallas Stars and, after coming back from that, suffered a wrist injury in late March with Rockford.

Despite van Riemsdyk’s lack of play, Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville has confidence in the young defenseman if he does end up playing against the Lightning.

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“We saw first-hand what he was able to do this year. He surprised us all with how well he played, how well he thought the game and how effective and efficient he is,” Quenneville said. “We’ve been watching him, skating him in practice. One of his strengths is his reads. He’s positionally aware and [has good] decision making with the puck. He has a lot of attribute that could help our team. He came on the scene rather fast. We have a lot of confidence and trust with him.”

BRIEFLY

-Kris Versteeg rejoined the Blackhawks on Tuesday after he and his wife welcomed their first child, a boy they named Jaxson James. The last few days have understandably been a whirlwind, but a happy whirlwind, for Versteeg. “I kind of compared it, in a different way, when you win a Stanley Cup. It’s almost like you’re in shock. You can’t really understand what’s going on, can’t comprehend it until you step back,” Versteeg said. “But four or five hours, when you got to finally hold him it was pretty remarkable. It was exciting and tough to leave the guy.”

-If Wednesday's lines at morning skate were any indication, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane will at least start Game 1 together. How long it remains that way is uncertain. “Last two games, they were so good together, it’s tough to get them apart now,” Quenneville said. “We’ll see how the game goes matchup-wise. Certainly have some balance if you get them apart. Together, they were pretty dynamic the last two games.”

NHL Draft Profile: D Noah Dobson

NHL Draft Profile: D Noah Dobson

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

Noah Dobson

Position: Defenseman
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 180 pounds
Shoots: Right

Scouting report:

"A very effective two-way defenseman with good puck distribution and a strong shot from the points on the power play. He is a point-producer with size, who defends and utilizes strong positioning and a good stick in the defensive zone."

NHL player comparable: Brent Burns

Fit for Blackhawks:

The Blackhawks lacked defensemen that generated offense last year. They also lacked defenders than can ... defend. Dobson is a player who can do both, and if he slips past Vancouver at No. 7, the Blackhawks may have a difficult decision on their hands.

Dobson could solve some of those defensive issues, but it likely wouldn't be in time for the 2018-19 season. He needs time to develop properly.

The Blackhawks like to evaluate prospects based on what their ceiling is and where they're at in their development curve, and if they see major upside here, they'll go for it. It just depends if there's somebody available that they like better.

NHL Draft Profile: F Jesperi Kotkaniemi

NHL Draft Profile: F Jesperi Kotkaniemi

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

Jesperi Kotkaniemi

Position: Center
Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 189 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

"Kotkaniemi has been a top-six forward for his league team in Finland all season and had a very solid U18 season relative to his historical peers in the league. He has very good hands that are high-end, if not flashing elite. He can make very skilled plays off an entry, but what impresses me is how well he can control the puck and keep plays alive."

NHL player comparable:

Fit for Blackhawks:

There isn't a player that has climbed the rankings in such a short amount of time than Kotkaniemi, who was initially projected to go outside the top 10 but could go as high as No. 3 overall. It's likely because there aren't many high-end centers in this draft, and he's the top one.

If Kotkaniemi happens to slip to No. 8, it may be hard for the Blackhawks to pass up on him. He's versatile, too, which is always a bonus, especially when playing under Joel Quenneville. But if they view him as a center, here's how the Blackhawks would look down the middle: Jonathan Toews, Nick Schmaltz, Kotkaniemi and Artem Anisimov.

Um, yeah. That'll work.