Blackhawks prospect Kyle Baun holds edge for roster spot

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Blackhawks prospect Kyle Baun, 23, is the grandson of legendary Maple Leafs defenseman Bobby Baun. | Bill Smith/Getty Images

BY SETH GRUEN

For the Sun-Times

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenne-ville’s directive for winger Kyle Baun seemed so generic, you might dismiss it if you didn’t know how impressed the Hawks were with Baun last season.

“Be ready for training camp,” Quenneville said.

Well, sure, everyone should be ready for training camp. But Quenneville might have been indicating subtly that Baun’s chance for a full-time job in the NHL could be nearing. Of course, that depends on his performance at prospect camp this week and, ultimately, in training camp.

“There’s definitely opportunity,” Baun said. “I know that, and you guys know that. So you definitely want to work hard. There’s competition there. There’s motivation to know that they’re going to take a serious look at me and a few other guys.”

Baun is the grandson of legendary Maple Leafs defenseman Bobby Baun. Kyle said his grandfather typically likes to keep their relationship familial. Nonetheless, exposure to an accomplished pro has given the 23-year-old an appreciation for what it takes to make it to the NHL. Or maybe more appropriately, how important it is to carve out a role on a team. Baun said that means playing physical in front of the net.

Recognizing his role shows a maturity that might have helped Baun in his three NHL games with the Hawks last season. He was impressive enough to draw compliments from Quenneville.

“It’s definitely reassuring, a confidence-builder,” Baun said. “But what happened there doesn’t -really matter moving forward. What I bring at training camp is what’s -really going to matter.”

Baun believes his exposure to the NHL last season will help prepare him for camp. The two things most prospects notice when they reach the NHL are the increased physicality and the speed. Baun said the speed wasn’t too much of an adjustment for him, and that could play in his favor when the Hawks finalize their roster.

“At the end of the day, it comes down to me trying to be the best player I can,” Baun said. “That’s all I can really do. If I’m good enough, I’m going to be there. If not, I guess I won’t be there.”

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