The next man up on the Top 25 Under 25 list is a bit of a late bloomer. Dylan Sikura had gone under the radar since being selected by the Blackhawks in the sixth round of the 2014 NHL Draft, but he turned heads at prospect camp after a solid sophomore year at Northeastern University. Now he's boosted his stock from intriguing late-round flier to real prospect, and that's why he slots in No. 22 on our rankings.
Birth date: June 1, 1995
Acquired via: Sixth round (No. 178 overall) in 2014 NHL Entry Draft
Most recent stop: Northeastern University (NCAA)
Size: 5'11, 158 pounds
Highest ranking: No. 18
Lowest ranking: Not ranked
Sikura was one of the most impressive performers at this year's prospect camp. He wasn't considered one of the team's top prospects entering last season, but has taken a real step forward on the ice and clearly impressed Hawks officials last month. Here's what GM Stan Bowman recently said on the team's insider podcast with Eric Lear when asked about a player who stood out during camp:
"The guy I've noticed a lot is Dylan Sikura from Northeastern," Bowman said, via The Athletic's Scott Powers. "He had a great season this year. It was his sophomore season. His freshman year was a tough year for him. He didn't play much. He was having trouble getting into the lineup. Last year he almost had 30 points in college hockey. He sort of carried that over here. I've been impressed with his ability to make plays. He's a smaller player, but he's got great skill and quickness and playing-making."
After an underwhelming freshman year at Northeastern where Sikura recorded just two goals and five assists in 25 games, he had 10 goals and 18 assists in 39 games as a sophomore. At the prospect camp, he regularly impressed with his speed and vision. There may not be a ton of upside given that he's undersized -- adding strength and filling out his frame appear to be key goals for him going forward -- but if he can develop into a good third-liner, that would be a solid coup for a player nabbed near the end of the sixth round. The risk is that he never gets bigger and ends up being a tweener at the next level. Still, there's some upside here.
What's next in 2016-17
Sikura is returning to Northeastern for his junior season, then will likely speak with the Blackhawks about a contract next spring. If he keeps playing well and adds strength, there's a good chance he gets a contract offer. But in speaking with The Athletic, he indicated he would be fine waiting to sign until after his senior year if the team felt that was best for his development.
"It's always in the back of your head," Sikura said. "At the same time, I'm a smaller guy. I was a late bloomer coming up as you can tell. I think at one point it's hard to say no if they ask you. At the end of the day, there's no rush, especially for a guy like me with my size and whatnot. I can probably wait out my four years there."
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Second City Hockey's Top 25 Under 25 rankings
No. 22: Dylan Sikura
No. 23: Graham Knott
No. 24: Anthony Louis
No. 25: Roy Radke
Honorable mentions: Radovan Bondra, Joni Tuulola, Mathias From, John Dahlstrom, Lucas Carlsson