Blackhawks

Mark McNeill ready for 'dream' opportunity with Blackhawks

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Mark McNeill ready for 'dream' opportunity with Blackhawks

RALEIGH, N.C. – Mark McNeill had dozed off while he was watching television when he got the call from the Blackhawks, letting him know he’d been called up.

So did he think he was dreaming?

“I think I did, yeah,” McNeill said with a smile. “I was a little surprised. But I’m thrilled to be here.”

McNeill will make his NHL debut — with mom, dad, brother and sister in attendance — when the Blackhawks face the Carolina Hurricanes Tuesday night. McNeill was on a six-game point streak when he was recalled on Monday — fellow forward Jiri Sekac is ill and did not make the trip. For McNeill, who was part of a 2011 NHL draft that turned out very well for the Blackhawks, finally getting this opportunity does feel like a dream.

[MORE HAWKS: Blackhawks ink GM Stan Bowman to three-year extension]

It could also be a little nerve-wracking, so McNeill is ready for that part of it, too.

“I think it’ll help if I throw the body around early and get those nerves out of the way,” said McNeill, who will play on the fourth line with Dennis Rasmussen and Richard Panik.

Coach Joel Quenneville gave McNeill the same message he does any new player.

“Play to your strengths, keep it simple,” Quenneville said. “We want to make sure you pressure the puck, keep it as long as you can and basically get to the net and put pucks to the net and hang around.”

McNeill has watched a lot of different guys get called up before him over these last few seasons. He said he just kept working until his got his chance. He’s been on a run lately, recording four goals and three assists as part of that six-game point streak with the Rockford IceHogs.

“The whole team’s playing great, and there’s some good chemistry with [Marko] Dano and [Ryan] Hartman,” McNeill said. “Moving the puck around really well, creating havoc in the offensive zone and we’ve started putting the puck in as of late.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

McNeill has waited a long time for this day. He’s going to try and take advantage of it.

“It’s going to be a dream come true,” he said. “It’s something you think about growing up as a kid. That day’s finally here and I’m really excited to be here.”

UPDATES

- Jonathan Toews left morning skate early but he will play against Carolina.

- Duncan Keith and Niklas Hjalmarsson did not participate in morning skate but they will play vs. the Hurricanes.

- Corey Crawford gets the start.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Reacting to Round 1 of NHL Draft

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Reacting to Round 1 of NHL Draft

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis recap Round 1 of the 2018 NHL Draft.

They discuss the pair of puck-carrying defensemen that the Blackhawks selected on Friday, Adam Boqvist and Nicolas Beaudin. When can we expect to see these first-round picks play in the NHL?

Boyle also goes 1-on-1 with Boqvist and Beaudin. The guys spoke with Stan Bowman and Joel Quenneville on Friday.

The guys also share their biggest takeaways from those interviews, which includes your daily Corey Crawford update and Quenneville appeared excited that the team has plenty of cap space to spend in free agency.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Blackhawks add another defenseman to pipeline, draft Nicolas Beaudin at No. 27

Blackhawks add another defenseman to pipeline, draft Nicolas Beaudin at No. 27

DALLAS — Despite taking Adam Boqvist with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, the Blackhawks took a second defenseman at No. 27 with the selection of Nicolas Beaudin.

Beaudin is a 5-foot-11, 172-pound defenseman who prides himself on playing strong at both ends of the ice and tries modeling his game after Torey Krug of the Boston Bruins.

"I’m a two-way defenseman," Beaudin said. "I can provide offense, too. I’ve got a great IQ. I think in my zone I’m just getting better and better."

Beaudin is also a left-handed shot, which is something the Blackhawks could use more of in the organization along the blue line when it comes to impact-type players.

"Nicolas is a very efficient defender," Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said. "He’s got a really nice skill set. He makes the game look pretty easy. He’s a smooth player, not a lot of panic to his game. He’s a good skater so when he has to turn back and get to the puck he can get there first. Usually he just gets his setup and makes the simple play.

"You watch him play and he makes it look really easy. He’s not a guy that’s getting run over a lot. He’s not a real big player, but he uses his brain really well and he had over a point a game, too. He’s got a good feel for making plays and scoring points."

The 18-year-old registered 69 points (12 goals, 57 assists) in 68 games with the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the QMJHL, and added three goals and eight assists in 10 postseason contests.

Beaudin is the third defenseman the Blackhawks have taken in the first round the last two years, with Henri Jokiharju and Boqvist being the other two.

"It’s a winning culture in Chicago," Beaudin said. "They won a lot. I know they’ve got some young guys coming in. For sure in the next few years I want to earn my place and I want to try to learn a lot from a guy like Duncan Keith."