It is not time to anoint him the “next one,” call him a generational talent or proclaim his immediate success, but for those who watched last night’s preseason opener for the Chicago Blackhawks against the St. Louis Blues, it became clear early on in the contest why the Hawks drafted Kevin Korchinski with the seventh overall pick in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft in July.
When Chicago traded Alex DeBrincat shortly before the draft commenced, what seemed like a thin return paralleled the shock that DeBrincat was actually on his way out of town. By trading “The Cat” to the Ottawa Senators, the Hawks received Ottawa’s first- and second-round picks in the 2022 draft (Nos. 7 and 39) and a third-round pick in the 2024 draft.
With the top-10 pick, Kyle Davidson looked to the blue line and selected Korchinski, a Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, native, who completed a solid 2021–22 season with the Seattle Thunderbirds in the WHL. Chicago then signed “K2” over the summer to a three-year entry-level contract with an average annual value of $950,000.
Korchinski turned 18 in June, and to be realistic, expectations of a meteoric rise to stardom should be limited, or, at the very least, do not anticipate seeing him in regular season action for the red and black in 2022–23. There is a very real possibility of K2 returning to the Thunderbirds for at least another year of junior hockey, if not more.
For those advocating he spend time with the Rockford IceHogs, the CHL-NHL transfer agreement does not allow for players drafted out of the CHL to play in the AHL until they have reached 20 years of age, meaning the soonest Korchinski could play for Rockford would be the 2024–25 season. Until then, the only feasible options are the Thunderbirds and Blackhawks. Given the approach General Manager Kyle Davidson seems to have, do not expect to see a heralded prospect like Korchinski rushed to Chicago any time soon.
What is clear, though, is K2’s talent level. Last night, he showcased very smooth skating, solid reads, jumped into the play confidently and made simple plays routine. He did not try to do too much, like attempting a 200-foot pass; he found an open red jersey and moved the puck. He made mistakes here and there, and in the second period, one that almost led to a Blues tally, but that is what he should be doing now, making mistakes and getting better. He was noticeable and showed natural instincts. Should the Hawks not have taken him with their seventh overall pick, it is evident that he would not have been on the draft board much longer. You cannot say the same when first watching former first-round defensive selections for the Hawks, such as Adam Boqvist and Nicolas Beaudin (2018) and Nolan Allan (2021).
Alex Vlasic on young(er) defenseman Korchinski: “He’s unbelievable. Great hands & vision. You can tell he has a bright future ahead of him. He’s one of the best guys I’ve ever met. Sometimes you get 1st rd picks & they can be cocky & overconfident, but he’s really down to earth.”
— Mario Tirabassi (@Mario_Tirabassi) September 27, 2022
Preseason NHL hockey is considerably more open, and in regular season play, K2 may not have the time to operate as well as he did last night. While true, there is a long way to go to see what comes of his young career, and if he continues to develop and can stay healthy, there is reason to be optimistic about his potential impact for this team. For now, he is a “prospect” and likely will be—and should be—for the foreseeable future.
Line combo musings
To start the preseason, Hawks newly appointed head coach Luke Richardson placed and Andreas Athanasiou and Max Domi on a line with Patrick Kane. Whether Richardson has done this on his own or was asked to try this by Davidson, it is a good thing. As most followers know, Kane’s bulky contract expires at the end of the season, and both Athanasiou and Domi were signed this summer on one-year contracts, most likely with the idea that the two of them will have a short tenure in the Windy City and get shipped out by the spring trade deadline on March 3. So, what do you do with these players right now? You put them with your most effective offensive weapon—that being No. 88—and hope they produce, therefore driving their trade value up. Seems pretty simple and perhaps it is. Make no mistake about it, the rebuild is on and it is not out of the realm of possibility that the Hawks entire current first line of Athanasiou, Domi and Kane will have new addresses by March.
The Blackhawks will return to the ice in road preseason action against the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday. Puck drop is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CDT.
Center Ice › Forums › ANALYSIS: There is potential in Kevin Korchinski
Share this article:
Share this article: