The Chicago Blackhawks did a rather notable thing heading into the weekend.
They moved Patrick Sharp to LTIR in order to free up a bit of extra cash and a little more flexibility while the star winger is out. As a result, they were able to call up center prospect Phillip Danault to make his NHL debut. Danault logged time against both the Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks over the weekend. While it was a quiet weekend overall for the youngster, he didn't do anything to deter us from maintaining excitement over his upside for the future.
The move was more of a result of Andrew Shaw's absence from the lineup, which is not a long-term thing, than anything. Danault has a skill set that allows him to fill that bottom six type of role. Moreover, he's a natural center, which is why he was readily embraced when he was called up from Rockford heading into the weekend back-to-back.
While there was some buzz around him, there wasn't a whole lot to discuss regarding the play of Danault. We were too busy lauding the Hawks' superstars as they ran Edmonton out of the building, before assessing just what went wrong against Vancouver on Sunday night (hint: they were really tired). Nonetheless, let's take a look at what he did in the pair of tilts.
As a result of the blowout against the Oilers, Danault was able to work his way into over 11 minutes of ice time. That's not a tremendous total, but for a guy playing his first game in the NHL under Joel Quenneville, it's indicative of the blowout for sure. He won 44 percent of his draws, winning four out of nine overall. He did finish with a solid Corsi%, at about 61 for the evening. That physical edge was there was well, as he finished with three hits, which was tied for second on the team.
Sunday night wasn't the greatest of outings, but that's to be expected when the team spends much of the night trailing. With the Hawks struggling to come up with energy in their third game in four nights, you'd have liked to see Danault log a bit more time and spell the others, but that's likely an unreasonable expectation in this type of situation. As a result of the Hawks doing their fair share of puck chasing, Danault was on the ice for just 7:47. He won only two of his 11 draws on the night, but he did contribute the first two shots of his career. It was an awfully quiet night for him, and it'll be interesting to see what this means for him moving forward.
Phillip Danault is up here for a reason. The imminent return of Andrew Shaw could certain derail any hope of sticking around for more than this short stint, but he has pretty nice upside. He's always been pitched as a better Dave Bolland, doing the two-way things that Bolland could do but with a higher offensive upside. Perhaps we'll see some of that once he gets his legs under him, but regardless of what happens in the next couple of days, it was nice to see him get a look over the weekend.
Addtionally, here is a probably unnecessary disclaimer: We do not yet have a photograph of Phillip Danault in a Chicago Blackhawks uniform in an actual NHL regular season game.
Randy Holt is a staff writer for Second City Hockey. You can follow him on Twitter @RandallPnkFloyd.