NEW YORK — Since the early stages of the season, general manager Stan Bowman had deemed prospect Dylan Sikura the Blackhawks’ trade-deadline acquisition, a guy who could help put them over the top down the stretch.
Well, Northeastern’s season went a bit longer than expected, and the Hawks’ season is going to end a lot earlier than expected. But Sikura still will get a chance to wear a Hawks sweater this season.
Sikura, the Hawks’ top prospect, is expected to be in the lineup as soon as Thursday against the Jets now that Northeastern has lost in the NCAA hockey tournament, a league source said.
Northeastern lost 3-2 to Michigan on Saturday, with Sikura scoring a power-play goal for the Huskies. The winger now is expected to sign with the Hawks and burn a year of his entry-level contract by playing the final five games of the season, a common move to entice college seniors to sign with the team that drafted them.
If Northeastern had won two games this weekend and advanced to the Frozen Four, which begins April 5, Sikura wouldn’t have played for the Hawks this season because their final game is April 7. That doesn’t mean he wouldn’t have signed with the Hawks anyway, but it would have opened up the possibility that Sikura could have waited until Aug. 15 to become an unrestricted free agent, as 2010 first-rounder Kevin Hayes did in the summer of 2014.
Sikura, a sixth-round pick in 2014, has become one of the top players in college hockey, with 22 goals and 32 assists in 35 games as a senior.
Coach Joel Quenneville, whom a league source said is a family friend of the Sikuras, saw him play March 9 in Boston.
‘‘We’d love to see him come here and join us,’’ Quenneville said after the Hawks’ 3-1 victory Saturday against the Islanders. ‘‘Stan will look
after that part of it. But if we can get him in here, we’ll get a good look here at the end of the year.’’
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