Blackhawks

Smith returns to Blackhawks lineup

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Smith returns to Blackhawks lineup

Ben Smith has been practicing and learning while waiting for his chance to get back into the Blackhawks lineup.

Hell get his opportunity tonight.

Smith will play tonight when the Blackhawks host the New York Islanders at the United Center. Smith has been a healthy scratch since playing in both Calgary and Edmonton on the teams circus trip. Its not clear who will come out in favor of Smith, but coach Joel Quenneville said its time to get the young forward back into the lineup.

"Certainly we like to be playing him," Quenneville said. "He had a couple tough ones (in Canada) but hes versatile, gives us some quickness and intelligence. He got going in Rockford and it looks like getting him back in here wed like to get him up to that pace, get him comfortable in our team game and in his own game. We think hes useful, so lets get him in there."

For Smith, its another chance to make an impact. He did it last postseason against Vancouver. He wasnt nearly as noticeable against Calgary and Edmonton last month; then again there werent many great performances from any Blackhawks out of those two.

Smith just wants to get the same type of performances he had in Rockford earlier this season.

Its not an easy transition from the American League, but thats no excuse, obviously. I just want to play and play well and contribute, Smith said. Its all about patience and working hard every day. Thats what Im trying to do.

Brent Seabrook and Steve Montador skated with the Blackhawks this morning while Dave Bolland did not. Quenneville said yesterday that all three were expected to play 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.