Blackhawks

Marian Hossa returns to lineup when Blackhawks host Hurricanes

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Marian Hossa returns to lineup when Blackhawks host Hurricanes

Marian Hossa returns and Corey Crawford starts when the Blackhawks host the Carolina Hurricanes tonight at the United Center.

Hossa missed the last two games before the Christmas break with an upper-body injury. Coach Joel Quenneville said last week that it was more precautionary than anything to hold Hossa out until after the break, and Hossa said the extra time benefitted him.

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“Obviously we had the nice break, a couple extra days definitely helped settle down,” said Hossa. “Now I just tested it on the ice, and it felt great.”

Hossa was in his usual top-line spot with Teuvo Teravainen and Jonathan Toews this morning. The second and fourth lines were the same as they were against Dallas. Andrew Shaw was back on the third line with Bryan Bickell and Dennis Rasmussen.

While Hossa wouldn’t divulge what the injury was, he said it happened in a game prior to the break and got worse against the Buffalo Sabres – “after the game is was smarter not to play, just take the break and make sure I get it back to normal,” he said.

[MORE: Blackhawks return from holiday break with another busy stretch ahead]

“It’s tough to fill his spot but it’s good seeing him get those extra couple of days to get the rest,” Bickell said. “He’s been in 1,200 games and over 200 playoff games; he’s still in great shape but circumstances like that, it’s precautionary. It’s a long season. Good to have him back tonight.”

Rob Scuderi, who took a redirected puck to the face against the Stars, is also expected to play tonight.

It’ll be another reunion for the Blackhawks tonight, with Kris Versteeg and Joakim Nordstrom now with the Hurricanes. Versteeg has five goals and 14 assists for Carolina while Nordstrom scored his second goal of the season against New Jersey on Saturday night.

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.