TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. —Dylan Sikura was calling for the puck, but figured defenseman Nicolas Beaudin couldn’t hear him, and couldn’t see him. Yet in a flash, there was the puck, right in Sikura’s wheelhouse for a blistering one-timer and a goal Friday afternoon in the Traverse City prospects tournament.
Consider Sikura impressed.
“Eyes in the back of his head,” Sikura said.
If you’re curious about Beaudin’s game, that play summed up why the Blackhawks spent a first-round pick on him in June.
“My hockey sense is my biggest strength, and I’m going to make some passes where nobody thinks the pass will go there,” Beaudin said after tallying an empty-netter in the Hawks’ 5-2 win over Carolina on Saturday. “That’s why I’m here.”
Beaudin is in an unusual spot. He’s a first-round pick, taken at No. 27 — higher than Henri Jokiharju, Alex DeBrincat and Ryan Hartman, to name a few. But because the Hawks also took fellow defenseman Adam Boqvist with the No. 8 pick, he is more under the radar than a typical first-rounder.
That’s fine by Beaudin.
“It helps me a little bit, not as much pressure,” he said. “I can just come to the rink and have fun with the guys, work hard and win some hockey games.”
Beaudin has been on the Hawks’ top pairing with Boqvist for the first two games of the tournament. He has two goals and an assist through two games.
It’s September, which means it’s time for Alexandre Fortin to offer a tantalizing glimpse into the player he might one day become. Fortin scored on a penalty shot on Friday and set up Dominik Kahun’s net-crashing goal with a nifty pass from behind the net on Saturday. He’s been all over the puck and all around the net through the first two games in Traverse City.
Fortin is coming off a disappointing first pro season in Rockford, as a series of injuries held him to four goals in 53 games.
“He was very involved and he’s not a heavy guy, so for him to win more 50/50s than [he loses], that’s a really good sign,” IceHogs coach Jeremy Colliton said. “I’m excited to see that. He’s just got to be healthy. Last year was tough. I thought he had his moments where he was excellent for us, but it was really broken up by a ton of injuries. He couldn’t get any momentum going, he couldn’t climb up the lineup. He would [briefly], he’d be in better situations, then he’d get hurt. A little bit of rookie inconsistent, too. But if he can stay healthy, he’s going to do well and he’s going to show he’s valuable.”
Hoping to Dom-inate
Dominik Kahun, signed out of the German league, has been effective centering the Hawks’ top line with Fortin and Sikura. At 5-9, 175 pounds, it remains to be seen whether he can hack it in the NHL, but he projects as a bottom-six forward.
“He’s a good player,” Sikura said. “Speedy little guy.”
Kahun played two years in the OHL before spending the last four years in Germany. He had 12 goals and 29 assists in 42 games last season, and had two goals and three assists in Germany’s run to the silver medal in the Olympics. It’s a big jump from the German league to the NHL, however.
“The good ice is between the dots, and that’s the same distance whether it’s here or there,” Colliton said. “I think it may take some time, but he’s a pretty good player, pretty smart and he does have that skill. Good skater, and usually those guys adjust a little quicker.”