Blackhawks News & Rumours: Korchinski, Nazar, Jones, Kurashev

Despite so much uncertainty surrounding the Chicago Blackhawks as they head into a new season, regarding what may or may not unfold throughout this rebuild, what fans can at least count on is that there will be a roster ready to play. Time will tell, however, whether or not any sustainable cohesion can be created among those who represent it.

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This edition of Blackhawks News & Rumours will focus on the names across the back of each respective sweater. Whether it’s already stitched or it will be in due time.

Korchinski Signs Entry-Level Contract

One of the key pieces in the trade that saw Alex DeBrincat depart the Blackhawks organization was the seventh overall pick in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. With that selection, Chicago drafted Kevin Korchinski.

Kevin Korchinski, Chicago Blackhawks
Kevin Korchinski, Chicago Blackhawks (Amy Irvin/The Hockey Writers)

Just because an athlete is selected at the event, that doesn’t guarantee that they’ll ever experience playing time in the NHL. It’s simply the first step toward that goal. However, it is typical to see those chosen earlier on in the process find a quicker route to their ultimate destination.

That pattern holds true for Korchinski, who recently signed a three-year entry-level contract (ELC) with the Blackhawks which carries a cap hit of $950,000 per season through 2024-25.

Korchinski is coming off a breakout season in the Western Hockey League (WHL) offensively, in which he registered 65 points through 67 contests during his third year with the Seattle Thunderbirds. Good for fourth among all WHL defensemen.

Given the construction currently occurring within Chicago’s game plan, it made perfect sense for Kyle Davidson to secure the 18-year-old’s talents.

“We knew that we wanted Kevin to be a big part of this team’s future, so we’re happy to have him within our system, developing in this early part of his professional career. His confidence and positive attitude paired with his size will be assets as he continues to grow his game in the WHL this upcoming season.”

Although we don’t yet know when Korchinski will make his NHL debut, that he’s this much closer is a good thing for Davidson. Having been part of the return that saw DeBrincat depart, the level of impact Korchinski can provide for the Blackhawks will have a direct correlation with where Davidson’s reputation ends up as a result.

Nazar Poised to Progress in NCAA

Chicago’s second first-round selection from the 2022 Draft, Frank Nazar was taken 13th overall. Another pick that the Blackhawks had only recently acquired — at the cost of Kirby Dach.

Frank Nazar, Chicago Blackhawks
Frank Nazar, Chicago Blackhawks (Amy Irvin/The Hockey Writers)

Entering this year’s draft, Nazar had just spent the past couple of seasons with the U.S. National Development Team of the United States Hockey League (USHL). Through 55 games, the centre accumulated 35 goals and 36 assists. A prowess that the Blackhawks will certainly be looking to utilize in the years to come.

However, although the 18-year-old centre recently participated in development camp with the club, his sights are currently set on achieving in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) throughout 2022-23.

As the University of Michigan anticipates what Nazar will infuse into their program, the Blackhawks hope to see him succeed while he’s there.

The quicker Nazar dominates at the collegiate level, the sooner he’ll be called upon for an opportunity in Chicago. Yet another sequence of events that may or may not work to Davidson’s advantage, given his efforts to ultimately extract this value out of trading Dach.

Jones & Kurashev Re-Sign With Blackhawks

After being the only two restricted free agents (RFA) to receive a qualifying offer from the Blackhawks, Caleb Jones and Philipp Kurashev took their time when deciding their next move. A month later, each elected to re-join the organization.

Jones carries a cap hit of $1.35 million, while Kurashev’s is $750,000. That both are only committed through 2022-23 provides a sense of flexibility for all parties involved, as the Blackhawks aren’t locked into anything long-term while the returnees are granted an opportunity to demand a raise sooner than they would have otherwise been able to.

Kurashev is capable of much more than his current career totals suggest, given the highlight reel type of player he’s proven capable of being throughout his first two seasons in the league. He just needs to find a way to maintain the pace that permits those types of performances. That he’s only 22 suggests he has more than enough laneway to help him do so.

While Jones, on the other hand, is coming off a year in which he set career-highs across most of his stat line. Illustrating that the veteran defenseman is still capable of progress. A reality both he and the Blackhawks are hoping the 25-year-old can build upon through 2022-23.

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That the Blackhawks can now count on some familiar faces returning and ready to elevate, while they get to witness some of their most promising prospects develop into even more in the meantime, is a promising sign for a rebuild that is starving for all the optimism it can stumble upon at the moment.