Blackhawks

Time for Blackhawks to get back to business

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Time for Blackhawks to get back to business

KANATA, Ontario Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa experienced the pressure-free side of hockey this weekend at the 2012 NHL All-Star Game. It was fun, it was silly, it was the polar opposite of intense.

Well, the (All-Star) party is over.

As Kane and Hossa trek back to Chicago Sunday night, their minds get back on the regular-season task at hand: the Blackhawks face a nine-game road trip right out of the break, beginning with the always intense game against Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night.

Did we mention the light-hearted party is officially over?

Its tough to go from a weekend like this to going right to Vancouver tomorrow. But its exciting, Kane said before heading back home, albeit briefly. Weve got 32 games until the playoffs. Were still fighting for a spot, fighting for a good one in the conference and just trying to have a good end to the season.

Theyre also trying to get back on the winning side after dropping two in a row to the Nashville Predators right before the break. The Blackhawks could have their full slate of players on Tuesday, or at least one of them. General manager Stan Bowman said Friday that Jonathan Toews is still targeted to return against the Canucks. Patrick Sharps status for that game is uncertain right now.

Itll also be the Blackhawks debut for Brendan Morrison, who was acquired from the Calgary Flames on Friday night. Morrison is certainly familiar with the Vancouver Canucks, having played eight seasons with them. Former teammate Henrik Sedin said the Blackhawks have a good one in the veteran center.

Hes a veteran guy who can play in a lot of different situations: power play, (penalty kill), hes good in the faceoff circle and hes great in the room, Sedin said. He does a lot of different things. I thought it was a good pickup.

If nothing else, the Blackhawks will be rested for this odyssey. Duncan Keith said prior to the break that taking care of themselves these past few days was important.

Youve got to get away a little bit, but this is all about getting rest and making sure were ready for the last 32 games, Keith said. You have to rest up, get strong and make sure were taking care of ourselves and feeling good when we come back.

Well, the Blackhawks are just about back. Theyll get tested right out of the gate, but this is what stretch-run hockey is all about: intensity, readiness and dealing with the pressure.

The break is officially over.

NHL Draft Profile: D Quinn Hughes

NHL Draft Profile: D Quinn Hughes

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

Quinn Hughes

Position: Defenseman
Height: 5-foot-10
Weight: 170 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

"He's got the puck skills, is a good skater, and is a guy with some high-end offensive talent. He wants to get right in there and play where it's hard and where you get rewarded. When he gets that puck on his stick, he wants to bury it."

NHL player comparable: Torey Krug/Kris Letang

Fit for Blackhawks:

It's no secret the Blackhawks are looking to restock their pipeline with some high-end defensemen. Henri Jokiharju and Ian Mitchell are on the way. But the former isn't a lock to be a full-time NHLer this season and the latter will continue playing in college for the 2018-19 season.

Hughes, who shined at Michigan and the IIHF World Championship with Team USA, would have the best chance of the three to crack the Blackhawks lineup first. The problem is, he likely won't be available at No. 8, so if Hughes is the guy they're locked in on, they'd need to trade up to grab him. 

If they did that, Hughes would give the Blackhawks a third blue line prospect they can get excited about. He's a left-handed shot, which evens out the balance in the system, and he would become a prime candidate to eventually replace Duncan Keith as the team's No. 1 defenseman.

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."