Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman announced two signings this morning: first up, 25-year-old defenseman Erik Gustafsson has re-upped with the team for two more years and secondly, NCAA star Dylan Sikura has signed a one-year, entry-level deal.
Originally drafted in the 4th round (93rd overall) of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft by the Edmonton Oilers, Gustafsson signed with the Blackhawks in April of 2015, following two very productive seasons with Frolunda HC in Sweden’s top league, the SHL.
The 6 foot 1 inch, 206 pound blue liner has one goal and five points in 19 games with the Blackhawks this season and an additional three goals and 17 points in 25 games with the team’s AHL affiliate Rockford IceHogs.
As for Sikura, the former 6th round pick (178th overall) of the Hawks from the 2014 NHL Entry Draft has torn up the NCAA this season with Northeastern. The 22-year-old forward has 17 goals and 48 points in 31 games this season, following up on his remarkable 21 goal, 57 point season from a year ago.
DobberProspects.com’s Tony Carr projects the 6’0”, 165 lb Sikura to be a bottom-six forward in the NHL with some offensive upside. He’ll need to add some muscle and bulk to his 6 foot frame, but once he does he could become the Hawks’ next version of Andrew Shaw or David Bolland.
With the Hawks clearly out of the playoff picture, the team would be smart to audition some of their younger players, including Sikura. Established youngsters like Alex DeBrincat, Vinnie Hinostroza and Matthew Highmore should continue to see some ice time, but don’t be surprised if John Hayden, Nathan Noel and the recently acquired Victor Ejdsell see some action, as well.