Chicago Blackhawks: 5 Players Who Have Surprised UsBy Tyler Juranovich on December 19, 2010 at 10:26 am in Blackhawks, Featured
I gave you guys what I thought were the “5 Biggest Underachievers So Far” for the Blackhawks this season. There I listed the five guys that I thought were holding up the Hawks, and were the main cause for a lukewarm start to the season.
After a phenomenal win over the hated Detroit Red Wings, I thought I’d have my next slide show be a little more optimistic.
With that, here are the Chicago Blackhawks’ most surprising players so far this year.
1. Jack Skille
Skille is also playing his first,complete regular NHL season. Along with Bickell and Stalberg, Skille is another of young hopeful.
Skill has actually been a hopeful for some time, but has now earned his spot on the NHL roster, as he’s been “shipped” back and forth from Rockford and Chicago.
Because of the full-time NHL duty we’ve seen Skille progress much this year. I don’t believe he’s at his full potential this year, but he’s only 23 years old, giving ample time for him to get better over the next few seasons.
His numbers suggest that he won’t be a huge scorer, but then again the Hawks just need a good forward to make up for the lost depth.
2. Tomas Kopecky
Kopecky might not be a line one forward, but you can’t deny how much better this player has gotten since the Hawks picked him up from Detroit last year.
Last year, Kopecky had a total of 21 points in 74 games. This season he has 20 points in just under half that. His plus/minus could use some improvement, but what we are seeing from Kopecky could be his best performance of his career.
He is rushing to the net, adding a much-needed body in front of the net. He’s also attacking the net more and looking to step up players.
Kopecky is at the prime of his career, and I am glad it’s happening with the Hawks.
3. Viktor Stalberg
Stalberg is another player playing in his first full NHL season. Acquired from Toronto, Stalberg was meant to give the Hawks another young, optimistic-looking prospect for the veteran players to teach.
Stalberg is eight games behind the total amount of games he played in Toronto and is only one point from his total last year. Stalberg is still a work in progress and has recently been quiet due to little game time, but early on in the season, Stalberg surprised us with his speed and natural scoring ability.
He showed us his potential, and I’d like to see that potential to its fullest because I believe he could be that Kris Versteeg-like player.
He might not be the highest scorer, but he could be that active, high-energy player the Hawks need to add to the lost depth.
2. Byran Bickell
Bickell is getting his first opportunity to play a full NHL regular season, and he’s making the most out of it. He has a modest 17 points, with nine goals and right assists, but has recently been tearing it up.
He has four goals and two assists in his past five games. His most recent was a goal against Detroit Friday night.
Bickell has to be seen as a Blackhawk player that is hitting his stride and progressing rather quickly. His season started slow due to line placement, but he has earned his promotions, and now is on a serious goal-scoring hot streak.
With the Hawks looking to catch up and gain some points, Bickell is hitting is stride in just the right time. He’s also added some offense to pick up the clack for the lost Hossa and Kane, two players that wont be back Sunday against the Kings.
Let’s hope that Bickell can keep this progression up all season long, as the Hawks will need their younger players to add depth back to this team.
1. Corey Crawford
Before this season, Hawk fans didn’t get to see a lot of Crawford. Once the Hawks signed Turco, there was hope that Crawford would be a seldom-playing second-string goaltender, but amongst the struggles of Turco, Hawk fans have seen a lot of Crawford.
And they want more.
Crawford has been a very reliable goaltender, bringing back nostalgia from the days of Niemi taking over for Huet. Crawford will win more fans if he plays as well as he did against the current Western Conference leaders and arch-rivals Red Wings.
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