The 2014 6th-round pick played 33 games without scoring a goal for the Blackhawks last season.
All summer long the Chicago Blackhawks have been focused on their bottom-six forwards. The Andrew Shaw trade, the addition of Ryan Carpenter, the Smith for Anisimov deal, and the Quenneville for Hayden swap. It’s all been apart of an effort to add much-needed depth to the forward group. Last season, the Blackhawks’ bottom six struggled to add much offensively. Well, that’s putting it nicely. They rarely generated many scoring chances at all. There’s a reason very few familiar faces are still around from that department.
One player that IS still around that was apart of the Blackhawks’ bottom six last season is Dylan Sikura. Sikura, 24, has yet to make an impact at the NHL level. He’s without a goal through his first 38 career NHL games. Nonetheless, Sikura was given a two-year, $1.5 million contract extension this offseason.
Sikura looks to make more of an impact in his second season of professional hockey. He was impressive in the AHL for the Rockford IceHogs last year, as he recorded 35 points (17G, 18A) in 46 games. Sikura also had some flashes of brilliance while playing on the Blackhawks top line. Of course, that was with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, but the trio posted some of the team’s best possession numbers. Sikura himself had a 55.1 CF% as well a 53.8 FF%, which were the highest on the Blackhawks.
While many of Sikura’s underlying numbers were solid last season, that didn’t reciprocate to the stat sheet. He was given a handful of opportunities to score his first NHL goal but couldn’t find the back of the net. Every game that went by had the feeling that it could be the one. The one where Sikura finally strikes and breaks the dam. Except each time ended with disappointment. Sikura rang one off the crossbar during a game in Montreal, and all Jonathan Toews could do was wrap his arms around the kid.
The feeling is that eventually, Dylan Sikura will find the back of the net…right?
Sikura in 2019
The situation for the Blackhawks bottom-six forwards in 2019 is currently a complicated one. There are a bunch of players competing for just a couple of available roster spots. Andrew Shaw, Zack Smith, Drake Caggiula, Ryan Carpenter, and David Kampf already are solidified on the roster. That leaves Dylan Sikura, Alex Nylander, John Quenneville, Anton Wedin, Matthew Highmore, and Aleksi Saarela fighting for spots. Not to mention 18-year-old standout Kirby Dach could be in the mix.
All in all, it’s going to be hard for Dylan Sikura to crack the opening night roster. While his underlying numbers were impressive last season, they came without the finished product. The fact of the matter is that Sikura needs to prove that he belongs at the NHL level. If Sikura wants to make the Blackhawks roster, then he has to have a productive training camp and preseason. He has to leave his mark on the Blackhawks front office and coaching staff.
Sikura’s been successful in the NHL in spots, but he needs to put it all together. He has the potential to become a top-six winger for the Blackhawks and could be playing in that role sometime next season. Sikura may be fighting for a bottom-six roster spot, but he fits better in a scorers role. It would be wise for the Blackhawks to have Sikura either playing in the top six or further developing in Rockford.
If Dylan Sikura begins the year in Rockford, then it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. Would it be discouraging? Maybe a little, yes. But with all the depth the Blackhawks added this offseason, there’s no reason to rush Sikura in. With injuries and everything that happens day-to-day in the NHL, he’ll be up at some point this season. Hopefully, Dylan Sikura will take advantage of the opportunity when the time comes.
For more Blackhawks news and updates, follow the author (@JackBushman2) on Twitter. Make sure to check out the author’s podcast, Talkin’ Hawkey, which can be found on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Twitter (@TalkHawkey).