Blackhawks forward Dylan Sikura won't go away, and that's a good thing for the team.
Sikura, selected by the Hawks in the sixth round (No. 178 overall) of the 2014 NHL Draft, has spent parts of the last three seasons in a Hawks sweater. He played in five games with Chicago during the 2017-18 season, 33 in 2018-19 and nine this year before the NHL pause.
When Sikura wasn't with the Hawks the past two seasons, he was with the Rockford IceHogs, Chicago's American Hockey League affiliate.
The Aurora, Ontario native has totalled 14 points (one goal, 13 assists) in his 47 games with the Hawks, and has been using this summer's unique set of circumstances to make the most of another opportunity with Chicago.
Dylan has been getting more and more noticeable in the Hawks' Phase 3 training camp, which will lead up to their exhibition game against the Blues and play-in series against the Oilers, both in Edmonton. He's looked quick and he's been regularly generating offense, including a hat trick in Tuesday's scrimmage and a shootout goal on Thursday.
"It’s obviously been a tough road," Sikura said of his two-way travel with the Blackhawks and IceHogs on a Zoom video conference call with Hawks media Thursday after practice. "I know we’ve had conversations about this leading up, trying to kind of find a spot you fit in or what kind of player you’re going to be at this level.
"But I think sometimes it takes time. For me, it’s always been a time game and kind of waiting out and trusting the process there. Hopefully I can take a step here, maybe get into a game or two depending on what happens and see what happens there. But you know just kind of keep taking a step and hopefully one day breaking that barrier and just becoming a regular."
The fact that the winger has been noticeable in camp speaks volumes as he's often not been participating with the main group of forwards in camp.
"So with Dylan, we've tried to keep the forward group to 12, just to try to get as many reps as we could for that group of 12 forwards. So Dylan, sometimes we've had a 13th and sometimes we haven't, and so it can be frustrating to be outside of that top group when you're trying to prove you belong in there," Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton said Thursday. "But I think he's done a really, really good job. Right from Day 1 he's had a lot of energy and you can see he's hungry to play.
"Got the chance to fill in for Tazer a little bit in the scrimmage, thought [on] the power play he moved it really well when he was there. And then in the scrimmage he had some success.
"That's important for him to feel that confidence again that he's an NHL player and he can help us win. I believe that that's the truth, he has a part to play here and a lot of times in the playoffs those guys who get in late or as depth players, they end up being the difference. So we want him to feel good about his game and be excited about his chance to contribute and I think that he will."
The Hawks will hold their final training camp practice in Chicago on Saturday before traveling to Edmonton on Sunday and practicing there. Their exhibition game against St. Louis is on July 29 and the best-of-five qualifying round series against the Oilers, with the winner advancing to Round One of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, begins Aug. 1.