Reinforcements coming for Blackhawks? Van Riemsdyk, Bickell may play


Reinforcements coming for Blackhawks? Van Riemsdyk, Bickell may play

Coach Joel Quenneville used “could” to describe Trevor van Riemsdyk’s playing status for the second time this series on Monday. This time, however, it like van Riemsdyk is getting his shot.

Van Riemsdyk and Bryan Bickell are expected to play Monday night when the Blackhawks host the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.

On the other side, Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper wouldn’t divulge whether or not Ben Bishop would start in goal; Bishop did address the media but did not talk about what ailed him or if he was starting.

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As for Van Riemsdyk, he was in the room earlier Monday – David Rundblad was still on the ice as the room was closing, usually a sign a player will be scratched. Van Riemsdyk - who has been sidelined with injuries to his knee and wrist - also said his family should be here tonight.

“I’ve been doing all I can to get ready and just be mentally prepared for this,” said van Riemsdyk, who will play his first NHL game since Nov. 16. “Obviously there’s a lot of experience in this room to help me get ready, I have a brother who’s been through this. He’s helped me out; that’s an advantage to have. It’s been a fun experience to be part of it this time and not just watching it on TV or watching my brother go through it.”

Quenneville liked and trusted van Riemsdyk this fall and believes the young defenseman will be fine in Game 3.

“[He brings] real steadiness to the back end,” Quenneville said. “He's got a real good patience level with the puck. Got good reads, good stick. He’s positionally aware. I thought he came out into the team out of the blue, outstanding at the beginning of the season for us. I think he adds another dimension to our back end.”

Van Riemsdyk has been skating with the Blackhawks since early in the Western Conference Final. He said the work has helped him and he feels like he’s come a long way since the Blackhawks first recalled him around that time.

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“When I went down with the wrist I could focus on the leg and get it stronger. I’ve had another couple of months to work on it,” he said. “It feels better. I feel a lot smoother out there.”

Meanwhile, Bickell said he was suffering from vertigo since the end of the Western Conference Final. He was a late scratch in Game 1 and was also out for Game 2. Monday morning, he was back on the second line with Brad Richards and Patrick Kane.

“I talked to everybody in the city and everybody on the phone as to what I could do,” Bickell said of his vertigo. “It was tough sitting out and just saying that you had vertigo and can’t play. It’s passed. It’s one of those things that could take two weeks or it could take four or five days so I’m happy it’s gone and I’m ready to go tonight.”

The Blackhawks will find out for sure whether they’ll face Bishop or backup goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy just before the game. Again, Bishop talked, but wouldn’t discuss his ailment/injury or status for Game 3. Cooper said he’d talk with the Lightning training staff after his press conference.

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“I don't know who is starting. I will find out after this media session,” Cooper said. “We have two capable goalies that we have 100 percent confidence in who is going to play. One of them is playing. It's Vasi or Bish. That will be determined tonight.”

NHL Draft Profile: F Oliver Wahlstrom

NHL Draft Profile: F Oliver Wahlstrom

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

Oliver Wahlstrom

Position: Right wing
Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 205 pounds
Shoots: Right

Scouting report:

"Wahlstrom already has an NHL-caliber shot with a quick release and the ability to create space for himself and linemates. He's most known for his goal-scoring ability and elite shot, and can hit a one-timer as good or better than many professional players."

NHL player comparable: Phil Kessel

Fit for Blackhawks:

The Blackhawks would probably prefer to take a defenseman at No. 8, but because four of them might go inside the Top 7, the best available player on the board is likely to be a forward. And there's a decent chance that could be Wahlstrom.

Wahlstrom would immediately become Chicago's top prospect, and a player that has the potential to slide into the top six when he reaches the NHL — whenever that may be.

He's committed to college for the 2018-19 season, so it's doubtful he would join the team until at least 2019-20, but Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley said in our draft preview edition of the Hawks Talk Podcast that it wouldn't deter them from picking him. 

And it shouldn't, because you don't want to waste a player of his caliber's entry-level years developing in the minors if he's not ready yet.

"I think the way we would evaluate it is, we project them, we try to get a timeline on when we think they might be NHL ready," Kelley said. "But we're also looking for where they are in their development curve and want their ceiling is. I think in some players, you have to be a little bit more patient for them to reach their ceiling. That doesn't necessarily mean that players can't exceed their development curve, I think we saw that with Alex DeBrincat last year."

NHL Draft Profile: D Rasmus Dahlin

NHL Draft Profile: D Rasmus Dahlin

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

Rasmus Dahlin

Position: Defenseman
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 181 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

"Is the clear-cut No. 1, pro ready prospect for the 2018 draft. He has the skating, skills and elite hockey sense that can dictate the style of play and the pace of a game, whether it's with or without the puck. He finds ways to contribute and get the job done in all situations."

NHL player comparable: Nicklas Lidstrom

Fit for Blackhawks:

There is zero chance the Blackhawks can snag Dahlin, because it's highly unlikely the Buffalo Sabres would consider moving out of the No. 1 spot, and even if they did it would require a king's ransom. But for the sake of this exercise, what would Dahlin do for the Blackhawks organization?

Well, he's a player who immediately slots into your Top 4 and has the potential to emerge as Chicago's best defenseman in the next year or two. We're seeing it in Boston with Charlie McAvoy, Philadelphia with Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov, and Columbus with Zach Werenski and Seth Jones where these young defensemen are changing the directions of their franchise's.

That's what Dahlin would do for the Blackhawks, who are in desperate need of a young, impact blue liner. Now back to reality.