After graduating from Northeastern in 2018, Dylan Sikura popularly was seen as a future top-six forward staple for the Blackhawks.
But after waiting for more than two seasons for that lofty potential to show itself in more than brief glimpses, the Hawks have given up on the experiment.
They traded the 25-year-old wing to the Golden Knights on Monday, marking the end of his much-discussed yet ultimately fruitless tenure in the Hawks’ organization.
Coincidentally, the player coming back from Vegas in exchange — Brandon Pirri — was essentially the Sikura of six years ago.
Pirri, the Hawks’ second-round pick in 2009, racked up enormous stat lines in four successful seasons with the Rockford IceHogs (2010-14).
But Pirri never translated that minor-league dominance to the NHL level, and Hawks general manager Stan Bowman eventually dealt him to the Panthers for two middle-round draft picks at the 2014 trade deadline.
Pirri finished that first Hawks stint with 200 points in 238 AHL appearances but only 13 points in 35 NHL appearances.
If that kind of production gap looks familiar, it’s because Sikura just finished his first (and likely only) Hawks stint with 68 points in 91 AHL appearances but only 14 points in 47 NHL appearances.
Sikura’s inability to get to scoring areas and win puck battles against larger, more talented NHL opponents — even entering the 2019-20 season, when his expectations were still fairly high — proved an insurmountable challenge.
The Ontario native will hope the change of scenery to Vegas rejuvenates his career, but the Hawks likely will be happy they moved him while he still had some marginal trade value.
Pirri, now 29, has turned out to be a serviceable depth forward, tallying 121 points in 275 career NHL games.
And he won’t have to move far for this coming season. While in the Knights’ organization for the last three years, he spent the majority of his time with the AHL’s Wolves.
He scored 35 points in 38 games with the Wolves last season, in addition to two points in 16 games with Vegas.