Joel Quenneville checks in on Blackhawks’ top prospect, Dylan Sikura
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BOSTON — Joel Quenneville might have caught a glimpse of the Blackhawks’ immediate future Friday night when he stopped by Northeastern’s game against UMass on Friday night. Top prospect Dylan Sikura had two goals in the game, and the Northeastern senior is third in the country with 48 points (17 goals and 31 assists) in 31 games.
Sikura is expected to sign with the Hawks later this month, whenever Northeastern’s season ends. As a senior, the 2014 sixth-rounder can become a free agent if he chooses not to sign — like 2010 first-rounder Kevin Hayes did when he signed with the Rangers — but the Hawks are confident he’ll be in a Hawks jersey before the end of the season, like John Hayden was last spring when Yale’s season ended.
The Hawks have been trying to walk the fine line of being relentless in their pursuit of Sikura without being suffocating
“I’m not trying to bother Dylan so much,” general manager Stan Bowman said recently. “I have spoken to his family advisor, I guess. He doesn’t have an agent since he’s a college kid. But we’ve had some discussions about how that would look and when he would be here. That’s definitely our plan.”
At 5-11, 165 pounds, Sikura isn’t very big, but he’s become one of the top players in college hockey. Quenneville liked what he’s seen so far.
“He’s got some real good patience and play-recognition,” he said. “Got some quickness to his game. But he’s really improved over the years here.”
The Hawks signed Dylan’s older brother, Tyler, to a one-year contract last week. He had been on an AHL contract, but has been a pleasant surprise with 16 goals and nine assists in 57 games with the IceHogs.
Tommy Wingels’ versatility is one of the things that quickly made him a Quenneville favorite. But the Bruins are taking it to almost comical levels since acquiring him at the trade deadline.
“I’ve been all over,” Wingels told reporters on Friday. “Third-line left wing, right wing, center, fourth line — four positions in four games. Whatever the coach needs from me. I’m comfortable at both. Doesn’t really matter to me. I think part of my game is being aggressive, being a heavy forechecker, create battles. Maybe that’s more suited to the wing, but I feel comfortable in both. Whatever’s going to help the team, help us win that game.”
In his first five games with the Bruins, Wingels has a goal and two assists, including a two-point night in his Boston debut. The Wilmette native will be right back at the United Center on Sunday for the second half of the home-and-home series.
“It’ll be fun,” he said. “Great group of guys there. I enjoyed my time there very, very much. It was a huge honor being from Chicago [and] playing for the Blackhawks. I can’t say that enough how much I enjoyed that experience. It meant so much to me to be able to play in front of friends and family on a nightly basis. That being said, it’s in the past now. From the day I’ve gotten here, I’ve had to put it behind me and I’ve had to make sure that all my focus is here in Boston, which it is. … Pretty unique to play them back to back, having just got traded. Hopefully on Sunday we can talk about the Bruins getting four points.”
Even before Wingels was traded, there was speculation that he’d re-sign with the Hawks regardless in the summer as an unrestricted free agent. That would probably be just fine with Quenneville.
“We liked Tommy,” he said. “Tommy was a very useful guy for us. He’s useful and he’s got a real good awareness to the game, versatility of playing in the middle, as well. Strong on faceoffs. A good hard honest working guy that you appreciate.”
Defenseman Carl Dahlstrom was sent back to Rockford on Friday after appearing in 11 games with the Hawks, posting three assists. The 23-year-old Swede was solid, if unspectacular in his brief stint.
“I thought he started really well,” Quenneville said. “He gave us some size on the back end, [and was] deceivingly quick in some areas. Defended well. Pretty simple in his approach, but I thought he did pretty well.”
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