Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks go for three in a row vs. Senators tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks go for three in a row vs. Senators tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on CSN and streaming live on Coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. John Hayden to make NHL debut.

Over the weekend, Hayden wrapped up his four-year collegiate career at Yale University. Five days later and the 22-year-old big-bodied forward is joining the Blackhawks for the stretch run, and potentially playoffs, too. He's expected to make his NHL debut tonight, and Joel Quenneville indicated to reporters Wednesday that Hayden will likely be playing on the top line with Jonathan Toews. Goes to show you how highly they think of this kid, and the immediate impact they believe he can make.

2. Nick Schmaltz moves to center.

With Artem Anisimov out three-to-four weeks due to a lower-body injury, Schmaltz will move back to second-line center with Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin. He's played center practically his entire career before the pros, so it shouldn't be much of an adjustment. And he was forced to slot into that role earlier this month, and shined during that brief stretch. He registered two assists and made a terrific backcheck to set up a Kane goal in a win over Pittsburgh, and also set up beautifully a pass to Panarin for the third goal of the game in Tuesday's win over Montreal. The only issue might be at the faceoff circle, where he's won only 30 percent in 196 tries. There's definitely room for improvement there.

3. Duncan Keith and Erik Karlsson.

A pair of former Norris Trophy winners will put their talents on display tonight, and they'll probably see a lot of each other on the ice. In their first meeting in Chicago on Dec. 20, Karlsson logged a team-high 28:25 of ice time while Keith had a game-high of 28:47. They were both on the ice for nearly half the time the other was on. Karlsson ranks second among defensemen with 62 points while Keith ranks fourth with 47. Both players will surely be in the Norris Trophy discussion at the end of the season, although it will take a lot to surpass runaway favorite Brent Burns.

4. Artemi Panarin bonus watch.

There are many scenarios for which Panarin can trigger his Schedule B bonus, which is worth $1.725 million and counts against next year's salary cap. The easiest way to do that is by finishing among the top-10 in the league in points, goals or assists. With four points in his last three games, Panarin is tied for 14th in scoring and trails by five for the No. 10 spot. He also has 39 assists, which ranks 20th, but is only separated from the No. 10 position by three. If he stays hot, it's certainly possible for him to hit those bonuses for the second straight year.

5. Can Blackhawks get back on track in shot differential department?

The Blackhawks have come away with wins over Minnesota and Montreal in their past two games, but they've been outshot 86-46 in those games thanks in large part to Corey Crawford, who followed up a season-high 42-save outing with a 40-save performance in Montreal. That's not a good formula for success. The Senators are among the bottom-eight in puck possession numbers, so this might be a good chance to get back on track in that area and take the load off their goaltender.

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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.