As the Blackhawks pass through another disappointing season, the team must continue to focus on development. The team has a nice group of prospects coming up the pipeline, but there are many that are starting to worry about whether the Blackhawks are doing the right thing with defenseman Henri Jokiharju, their 2017 first-rounder.
The Blackhawks, not known for developing defensemen recently, loaned Jokiharju out to Finland for the World Junior Championships, against the youngster’s wishes even though they eventually won the gold medal. Since his return, the team has changed course in his development, moving him over to the left side, his off-side which will help make room next season for right-hand shot Adam Boqvist, and has had his ice-time cut, according to The Athletic’s Scott Powers (subscription required). He even was a healthy scratch recently.
Head coach Jeremy Colliton said the changes are being made to make sure the youngster won’t burn out like many rookies do during their first season.
“I think he doesn’t need to play every game just like other guys don’t need to play every game,” Colliton said. “Kind of touched on it yesterday, we got some young players, 82-game season, it’s hard to keep that level night in and night out, so we may end up with a rotation. It’s not necessarily performance specifically why they’re coming out, but we can get them extra off-ice training or video or maybe a little more practice work so we continue to develop them.”
- The Colorado Avalanche suffered a key loss Saturday as the team will be without defenseman Erik Johnson, who suffered a concussion during their game against Los Angeles. The veteran defenseman is expected to be out for the next two games and head coach Jared Bednar hopes he’ll be back after the All-Star break, according to The Athletic’s Ryan S. Clark. The defensive-minded blueliner averages 21:42 of ATOI and is a key figure on the team’s defense.
- The Avalanche also had good news in practice as defensive prospect Conor Timmins, who has missed all of the 2018-19 season so far with a concussion, practiced today with the team even if it was in a non-contact jersey, according to BSN’s AJ Haefele. Bednar said after the practice that Timmins will begin ramping up activities over the next couple of weeks and they will see if he’s ready to go when the team returns after the All-Star break. Timmins, the team’s second-round pick in 2017, could help the team down the stretch if he’s deemed ready.
- Ted Wyman of the Winnipeg Sun looks back at the first half of the season now that the team hits their bye and All-Star week, suggesting that while many things have gone right for the Jets, perhaps the most disappointing part of the season has been the play of star forward Patrik Laine. The scribe writes that the third-year winger is having a miserable season despite having 25 goals at this point. Despite an 18-goal November, Laine has tallied just seven goals combined in the other three months and often looks like a rookie on the ice. Of course, he’s only 20 years old still, so patience is needed.