Ryan Garbutt hadn’t been at Blackhawks camp long when coach Joel Quenneville noticed what was most evident about his game.
“The thing that jumps out is his quickness, his speed,” Quenneville said of the forward.
It’s a good trait to have, especially joining this group.
Garbutt, who was acquired, along with defenseman Trevor Daley, when the Blackhawks traded Patrick Sharp to the Dallas Stars, has fit in well this preseason. He’s played with a variety of new teammates, as can be the habit in the preseason, and his speed has been evident. Garbutt scored two goals in his first two preseason games; he didn’t score against St. Louis, but he had some good opportunities and finished with a team-high six shots on goal.
“I think he’s had a real good camp and is very noticeable. He’s had a breakaway a game, at least, and that’s due to the explosiveness with his speed,” Quenneville said. “I think he’s a nice addition to our team, gives us a real intangible of having explosive speed. As he gets a lot more comfortable in how we move around the ice, I think that’ll enhance his game.”
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Garbutt said the transition has gone pretty smooth thus far.
“I think I’m more comfortable every game,” he said. “It was nice getting on the road, playing in Montreal (on Friday), just being in the season, playing the back to back like this. So I think it was good for me.”
For Garbutt, it’s about fitting in on this team and into this lineup. As well as speed, Garbutt can also play with an edge; that’s something else the Blackhawks aren’t deprived of, with Andrew Shaw, Andrew Desjardins and (possibly) Kyle Baun.
“It’s always nice to have players who play like you around you, guys who like to play hard, play with grit,” he said. “I haven’t talked to the coaches about stuff like that (my role). I’m just trying to earn my spot on the team.”
So far, it looks like he’s doing that. Chicago isn’t completely new to Garbutt — he played for the Chicago Wolves during the 2010-11 season. Now he’s just getting more used to downtown as opposed to the suburbs. It’s been a pretty easy adjustment; the one on the ice has been, too.
“I’m just trying to learn from the guys who are building a winning tradition here,” Garbutt said. “Everything’s been just as I’ve expected so far.”