The Hawks are one game away from tying the longest streak with a point to start the season. An underrated part of the Hawks team is the emergence of their young players.
Over the past several years much has been made of the Hawks young players that were down in Rockford. The failure of the young players to play well in the NHL has cost the Hawks in the past few seasons.
But now the Hawks appear to be replacing the depth that was so important in their run to the Stanley Cup. The rise of players such as Nick Leddy, Brandon Saad and Marcus Kruger has been vital this year.
Last year there was nobody who looked more uncomfortable with his role than Leddy. He was asked to play top four minutes at the start of the season and he never had the offensive jump that coaches and management thought.
But this year Leddy has been on the third pairing and been able to adjust thanks to Johnny Oduya. He has 2 goals and 4 assists this season and is moving the puck well. In addition Leddy is jumping up at the blue line and disrupting the play before it starts.
Now Saad might not be in the lineup if it weren’t for Daniel Carcillo’s injury in the season opener. After starting out slow, Saad has scored two goals in the past six games. He has shown consistent effort and has thrived playing with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa. If he continues the effort, Saad could wind up being a star with the Hawks. He’s big and brings a physical game with loads of skill. The goals will start going in and his star will rise.
The last player who has really impressed is Kruger. He has been noticeable over the last two weeks with his offensive game. There was a deadly pass that Kruger made to Niklas Hjalmarsson for his goal with a deceptive back and forth move. Being buried on the fourth line doesn’t bring many opportunities but Kruger makes the most of his limited time.
He has collected three goals and two assists in the last six games. With the moves and hustle that he has been showing lately, it is no wonder that people thought he could be a number two center for the Hawks. Not only does Kruger bring offensive game but he also is part of a great penalty kill effort and makes up a deadly penalty kill unit with Michael Frolik. The improvement of his game on both offense and defense has been a pleasant surprise for the Hawks.
The improvement of these three players as made the Hawks dangerous no matter what line is on the ice. This along with Andrew Shaw has given the Hawks a nice group of young players to add to the current mix. The young players have added to the depth of the Hawks and quality of the team. They are a big reason that the Hawks are so close to history.