In this edition of "Will he make the team?" I am featuring Dylan Sikura.
To be completely honest, I wasn't even going to feature him because I am in the belief that he is already on this team opening night in the top 9 unless an injury occurs. However, I've read more than a couple times where some fans see him better suited in Rockford.
So, do I think he makes this team? Yes… Dylan Sikura makes this team. Blog over.
Ok, ok. I'll elaborate.
The reason I am so bullish on D. Sikura being on this team on opening night and for the year is that he has the skill, maturity and there is a precedent there.
Recently, there have been many players that have played their 4 years of college, left NCAA and jumped into an effective role in the NHL.
There have been guys like Jimmy Vesey, Will Butcher and Alex Kerfoot the few in the last couple of years that played 4 years of NCAA and jumped into full-time roles.
Let's hone in on Kerfoot as an example for a second because his stats and path are very similar to Dylan's.
(courtesy of Elite Prospects)
So, Alex Kerfoot played 4 years at Harvard after coming out of Canada (BCHL) and progress year after year hitting 45 points in 36 games in his senior year.
Sikura came out of Canada (OJHL), played 4 years and scored 54 points in his last year at Northeastern.
Kerfoot went on and scored 43 points last year with the Colorado Avalanche, a team he opted to sign with after going to free agency. He was originally drafted by New Jersey Devils so that part is obviously differentiating from Sikura's path. However, there could be a connective route here as Kerfoot went with a team he would get playing time with as Colorado needed some depth up front.
I'm sure there would have been a chance in New Jersey, but something must have led Kerfoot to head to Denver to put himself in the best possible position to succeed.
Well, Dylan Sikura signed with the Hawks late in late March, ending speculation that he would test free agency. The Hawks also sneakily signed his brother Tyler, who ended up having a great year in the minors earning him an NHL contract.
Even if Dylan and his agent didn't think Chicago was the powerhouse they used to be, that works in his favour moving forward.
The Hawks shortage on depth is a key factor to the 23-year old showing up as No. 95 in the opening night program. Will we look back and see the Sikura/Kerfoot parallel continue with Sikura in and around the 43 point range?
Sure, you can be on the other side of this and point to someone like John Hayden in contrast to the Kerfoots, Butchers and Veseys who needed some time in the minors to craft his pro game. Would Sikura benefit of time in Rockford? Probably. Is it necessary, TBD right now, but my vote is no.
Still not convinced? Well, here are some other reasons why I think Dylan makes the team. First, the Hawks could use more of this:
(courtesy of Styles 666)
Moving on from YouTubes, as mentioned above, the Hawks are in a position to allow Dylan to come in and use that skill to learn at the NHL level.
He's also 23-years old, not a 19-year old kid coming out of the junior. He has that maturity in years and the way he carries himself working to his advantage.
The Hawks desperately need top end talent to help support the key offensive players and projected lineups have Dylan anywhere from line 1 to 3.
I believe he would benefit from playing on the 3rd line with a combination of Anisimov, Hayden, Kunitz, Kahun, Kampf, Ejdsell, etc. Then spot duty on the Powerplay.
Much like Alex Debrincat last year, Sikura will then be able to get his NHL legs under him to ultimately help the Blackhawks later on in the year and for long-term.
I went back and watched most of Dylan's 5 game stint with the Blackhawks at the end of last year. While he obviously looked timid (see: making sure someone didn't rip his head off), his skill and 2-way hockey sense were there.
Coach Q opted to play him on LW with Victor Ejdsell and Alex Debrincat for most of those games.
This line showed flashes of puck possession and great opportunities, however with Sikura and Debrincat on that line together, it really lacked any net-front presence.
I have seen lineups with Sikura-Toews-Debrincat as a trio and I feel like that would be much of the same – little-to-no drive to the net. This would leave our poor Captain doing all of the heavy work, thus driving him into the ground by Christmas time.
Sikura is a more of a playmaker and I'm sure would look good with Debrincat at times during a full season, but I think they should be separated and put with a couple guys with forechecking ability/grit to help get them the puck. The problem is the Hawks a lacking in that department. So, we'll see.
The one area where I can see the Hawks brass not keeping Dylan up in the NHL is that if he wasn't able to put on much weight/strength this year and they feel like starting in Rockford with his brother is the best way to ease into the pros.
He's listed at 5'11 / 160 lbs. Eeek. I have heard, however, that he has been bulking up this offseason so even if he's closer to Alex Debincat's 165 lbs frame, he's a smart enough player to avoid big contact in the NHL.
What do you think? Is Dylan Sikura playing for the Hawks in October or is he bunking with his bro in Rockford?