The 2002-2003 NHL season saw eight new faces slip in and out of Chicago. Below is a review of how each rookie found ways to show off their wares to the parent club.
Tyler Arnason was called up during the 2001-02 season to see if his gift as an offensive play-maker could continue at the next level. At the end of that season he showed clearly had a quick burst up ice, a gift for seeing ways to exploit defenses, and a nose for the net. Although not a speed guy nor a ballerina on skates, Arnason showed he could pot goals but needed to work on his defensive game, not any different than many young players getting a chance in the NHL. His 2002 training camp continued to make the management see him as a guy they were unable to send down because he could get the goals the Blackhawks sorely needed.
The thinking at the end of the 2002 season was to try and play “Arny” with at least one vet who could help advise him on his area of deficiencies while they shared ice and similar game experiences. Injuries to Daze and other Hawks made scoring a priority, so Arnason was thrust into situations with players who were also not as concerned with the defensive side of the ice. Early on Arnason lead rookie scoring and the Hawk press staff started trying to market him as the next best hope. His production was very good scoring 19 goals and 20 assists but he continued to be unaware of defensive responsibilities and was part of the same break-downs as the season ended as when it started.
Based on Arnason’s potential the Blackhawks traded away another offensive only p Read more»
After very stirring performances by Hawk prospect Brent McLean, he was sent down to Norfolk with promising Mikhail Yakubov, Igor Radulov, Kent Huskins and Steve McCarthy, as each will be asked to get just a little bit better before they are given jobs.
Tyler Arnason, along with Shawn Thornton and journeymen Garry Valk will fill the spots vacated by the losses of Daze and Fleury. One of these two may be returned to Norfolk when the missing veterans return.
Arnason scored 3 goals and an assist in 21 games last year and had an impressive camp offensively, earning a spot based on his continuing improvement and ability to play the wing.
Son of a former early draft choice, Chuck Arnason, of the Flin Flon Bombers #7 overall to Montreal in 1971, Tyler worked hard to get in shape to compete for a chance to stay on the major league roster and had good preseason outings. His strength at this time are his offensive value.
Big Shawn Thornton was acquired for Marty Wilford, probably the best defenseman on many a Indianapolis Ice team. Toronto wanted the older veteran minor league defenseman and gave the bigger, low scoring Thornton in trade. Thornton is a few months older than Arnason, and his game is along the wall. He has showed he also has some play making ability, and although he may be just a temporary fill, good showings will only help his cause. When the injured Hawks return, he may be the first one sent down.
Why did the Hawks sent down McLean because of his value as a steady face-off man at all previous levels of development. Read more»
The second meeting with the Dallas Stars and third preseason exhibition started with the non rostered players now seeing there is a new opening at forward with the Daze injury (Out a minimum of six weeks) and many took advantage of it in the Blackhawk 2-0 victory.
Of the marquee prospects, only Mikhail Yakubov didn’t come with a strong overall game at centre. Certainly his inexperience at the position was apparent although the over all talent is present in this big forward who might have helped management agree that Norfolk will help him get ready to be a NHL prime time player.
Mike Leighton had two very good periods only marred by goals scored on three successive penalties and two man advantages. He looks like a prime candidate as an NHL starter after a year of AHL seasoning and a back up role. He is big, cool under fire, and a leader on the ice. Experience seems to be what he still needs to acquire.
Can one of the trio of Huskins (not suited), Dempsey, or McCarthy usurp utility defenseman Steve Poast, a Sutter type player who ended strong last year when the rest of the defense petered?
Defenseman Nathan Dempsey played on the penalty kill and assisted on a pair of power-play goals by Kyle Calder, as he heightened the competition for the last defensemen slot. Steve Poapst and Steve McCarthy also played well but neither was on the penalty kill. Lyle Odelin used every opportunity to dish across to the left point so McCarthy could let them go but none found the inside of the net.
The big question to prospect watchers is who wil Read more»
Kent Huskins returned to the ice versus the Dallas Stars for his second consecutive game and again play very well both defensively and getting the puck to the forwards. He sent a long perfect pass springing Steve Thomas on one attempt and did nothing to hurt his attempts at finding a place for himself on the parent club.
This was the first game played by third year pro prospect Steve McCarthy, Igor Radulov, and newcomer left wing Travis Moen.
McCarthy played to his strengths carrying and passing the biscuit, but really didn’t excel in those strengths. Although he did not embarrass himself in the defensive zone, he didn’t challenge attackers or neutralize well and his passing wasn’t at its best and in general didn’t have a very good game. Besides, he wasn’t a factor on the score sheets, so you have to wonder if a continuation of his career in the AHL can be of any benefit to improvement in his game.
Chicago media are trying to make his two way contract (with a hefty NHL side) the reason why he would be sent down. I refuse to believe that NHL teams don’t man the parent club with their best players despite contract size. He will always be a smaller defenseman who will rely on using angles and his skating abilities to take out attackers. His strengths must come from his handling the puck. He has bulked up and gained muscle. The bottom line is all the parts must come together while on the ice to make a team.
The Blackhawks must decide if his offensive abilities fit with a defense that already carries defensive liability offenseman Phil Hous Read more»
Brian Sutter chose many new faces the reward of playing in this game. Forwards included in the lineup were last season call-up Tyler Arnason in a new role as a left winger, prime prospect Mikhail Yakubov, Brett McLean, Brandin Cote, and journeymen Shawn Thornton and Louis DeBrusk. On defense, the hometown fans were treated to a generous dose of Kent Huskins and Nathan Dempsey.
All played well.
Yakubov saw action early feeding Serge Berezin a neat drop pass, and showed signs of NHL finesse, moving effortlessly, and displaying NHL passing and a nice hard shot.
At this point it is difficult to compare his style, but it is clear he has more to learn but hard to not be excited by his future potential. He knows where to set up and wants the puck. His size only acts as another reason to try and rush him to the parent club early. He is not the dominant face-off center the Hawks are looking for to improve the team, but certainly has lots of offensive zone moxy that every team desires.
Centre Brandin Cote flew around and showed he had an offensive game. Despite his play, he looked like a guy destined for the farm.
Centre Brent McLean had many eyes centered on his play in the game. An above average face-off man in the AHL, the Hawks wanted to see what he could do in the dots and on the penalty kill. He certainly didn’t disappoint the fans, as he played hard, won face-offs and assisted on the short handed goal and scored the game winner.
McLean just doesn’t fit the role as a rough and tumble utility guy on Read more»