Blackhawks

Youth movement serves Wild

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Youth movement serves Wild

Jimmy Hayes and Andrew Shaw have been playing so well that coach Joel Quenneville admitted theyre both very deserving of staying a while.

That trend continued on Thursday.

Hayes had a power-play goal and an assist and Shaw added his second goal this season as the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Minnesota Wild 5-2 at the United Center on Thursday night. The Blackhawks, who moved back to first place in the Central Division and second in the Western Conference, have won two straight and have gotten points in their last three games.

Dave Bolland had two goals a power-play score and an empty netter and an assist. Viktor Stalberg added his 13th goal of the season, a new career high.

It was another impressive night for the rookies, who continue to log good minutes and contribute in every capacity the two combined for seven of the Blackhawks 24 hits.

That was a big goal by Shaw early on. He was dangerous off the rush, hes smart and keeps himself in the play, coach Joel Quenneville said. Jimmy scored a big one for our power play which wasnt pretty up to that point. We liked our contributions.

The Blackhawks will have to make choices soon, however, as Marcus Kruger should be back this weekend. But Shaw and Hayes are nevertheless making statements to stay.

After Devin Setoguchi gave the Wild an early 1-0 lead the Blackhawks turned it up offensively, scoring four consecutive goals. Shaw started it, and Hayes added his power-play goal off a pretty Bolland pass.

Jimmy is a big body in front, as you guys can tell, Bolland said. When he stands in front I think its tough to move him around. And I know when youre playing against a big guy in the defensive zone it is tough.

The Blackhawks got those across-the-board contributions theyve been looking for tonight. Whether it was good defense, different names on the score sheet or scoring on that struggling power play they went 2 for 3 tonight the Blackhawks were doing all the right things.

It was one of our more complete games from start to finish and a sign that were learning from recent mistakes, said defenseman Steve Montador, who had two assists. Theyre a tough team to play because they make you play a patient game and we wanted to not sit back and wanted to play an energetic game.

Michael Frolik also had two assists, as 10 different Blackhawks garnered a point against the Wild.

The Blackhawks have a tricky weekend coming up, with back to backs against Detroit on Saturday and San Jose on Sunday. Theyve been playing the team game with Patrick Sharp, Marcus Kruger and Daniel Carcillo out of the lineup, and theyre feeling more confident in it.

Things are working in the offensive zone, but youve got to also work in the defensive zone to get those offensive chances. I think were coming back, were helping our defensemen there, and were getting some quick outs to get in their zone quicker, Bolland said. I think right now were rolling and its a good thing.

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."