Dach, Nylander, others debut as Blackhawks’ development camp begins

The Hawks’ six 2019 draft picks all saw the ice at Fifth Third Arena as the weeklong event began Monday.

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First-round pick Kirby Dach saw his first ice time in a Blackhawks sweater Monday.

AP

Kirby Dach had three weeks between his introductory Chicago news conference and the start of the Blackhawks’ development camp Monday to decompress after the NHL Draft.

What did he do?

He took only one brief — very, very brief — vacation.

“I had some downtime with the family, headed out to our lake house and relaxed for one or two days,” he said, as if that was a normal length of time. “But I’ve got to get right back to work, right back in the gym and start skating again.”

Dach was indeed put right to work, skating in a star-studded group of prospects: the so-called “Team A” at the camp also includes newly acquired Alex Nylander plus Adam Boqvist, Ian Mitchell, Nicolas Beaudin and Chad Krys, among others.

Prospects participated in skating, shooting, puckhandling and defending drills before rotating in and out of an intense two-on-two game with goalies and nets.

“It was good to meet some guys and put some names to faces and get out there and get the goose bumps out of the way,” Dach said.

Dach and Nylander were paired together in one round of the game and dominated, with Nylander showing off his offensive flair.

To be fair, it’s rare for an already-turned-pro player to be at camp, much less one with three years of pro experience, so Nylander does have a built-in advantage. After flaming out in Buffalo and earning a reputation for a questionable work ethic, however, the 21-year-old winger needs every chance to prove himself.

“Since I just got traded here, I wanted to meet everybody and get out on the ice,” Nylander said. “This was a great opportunity for me to show what I’ve done training this summer and [that] I can get even better toward training camp.”

The Hawks’ other five picks from last month’s draft also appeared, with 6-6 second-rounder Alex Vlasic towering above the other youngsters and seventh-rounder Cole Moberg showing well.

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Monday was busy at Fifth Third Arena, the Blackhawks’ practice facility.

Other notes from Day 1

  • There’s nothing official yet, but expect Boqvist, a top defensive prospect, to leave the OHL and the London Knights to play in Chicago or Rockford next season.

“I want to turn pro quick, and I think I’m pretty ready for that,” he said, not-so-cryptically.

He’ll compete for a spot in camp.

  • The goalie group was interesting to watch from a new-blood perspective, with four camp invitees and 2019 sixth-rounder Dominic Basse there. Devin Cooley, a 6-4 invitee, was nearly impeccable with “Team B,” then filled in for the oddly absent Alexis Gravel with “Team A.” He had a .934 save percentage as a University of Denver sophomore last year.
  • Penn State’s Evan Barratt, a Hawks 2017 third-rounder, is participating off-ice only this week after undergoing hip surgery at season’s end. He had 43 points in 32 games with the Nittany Lions before the injury. He remains one of the franchise’s top forward prospects.
  • Philipp Kurashev, a 2018 fourth-rounder, spent 2018-19 trending up quickly on the Hawks’ prospect rankings, notching 65 points in 59 games in the QMJHL. His skating and shooting were impressive Monday. He’s a high-upside guy bound for Rockford in the fall.
  • Another interesting Rockford-bound player is Dylan McLaughlin, a longtime NCAA standout who signed a two-year AHL contract in March. At Canisius, the 24-year-old forward was a 2018 Hobey Baker Award finalist, then had 40 points in 37 games this past season. He demonstrated his quick release and deadly accuracy.
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