The headliners of the Blackhawks’ big trade with the Coyotes were Niklas Hjalmarsson and Connor Murphy, but Chicago also landed a potential NHL-ready bottom-six center in Laurent Dauphin. He’s spent the past two seasons primarily in the AHL and will try to make the leap to the next level with a new organization in 2017-18. Could he be a replacement for Marcus Kruger on the fourth line in the near future? It’s possible, and that’s why he’s No. 20 on our Top 25 Under 25 rankings.
Birth date: March 27, 1995
Acquired via: Trade with Coyotes (June 23, 2017)
Most recent stop: Tucson Roadrunners (AHL)
Size: 6’1, 181 pounds
Contract: One year, $745,000 cap hit, plus bonuses
The Coyotes nabbed Dauphin with the No. 39 overall pick in the second round of the 2013 NHL Draft after the league’s Central Scouting ranked him No. 28 among all North American skaters in the class. He’d stay in the QMJHL for two more seasons, eventually breaking out with 31 goals and 75 points in 56 games as a 19-year-old.
Arizona then signed him to an entry-level contract, and he spent the past two seasons split between the NHL and AHL. Last season, he put up 17 goals and 28 points in 38 games with the Tucson Roadrunners. He also appeared in 24 games with the Coyotes and put up three points in 24 games.
The AHL production is obviously more impressive than what he did with Arizona, but there’s reason to believe he could fit in as an NHL bottom-six center in the near future. Part of why his production lagged with the Coyotes was that they used him in a defensive-minded role — he took more than twice as many defensive zone starts as offensive ones.
In terms of possession, he finished seventh among all Arizona skaters with a 45.8 percent 5-on-5 Corsi, per Natural Stat Trick, which isn’t good but came in a less-than-favorable series of assignments on a bad team.
There’s not a ton of upside here given that Dauphin isn’t a high-level scorer or playmaker, but he’s shown enough scoring touch in the AHL that he could fit in the bottom-six if he can hold his own in the defensive end and at the faceoff circle.
What’s next in 2017-18?
Dauphin will compete with a variety of players for NHL playing time in the Hawks’ bottom six next season. Most likely, he’d slot in as the fourth-line center, but he’ll likely be battling with Tanner Kero, and possibly veteran addition Lance Bouma, to fill that role out of the gate. Beating out both of them for an NHL spot may not happen, in which case Dauphin would become of the Rockford IceHogs’ top centers for the time being. If he’s on the same line as Alex DeBrincat in the AHL, that could mean a lot of points and an NHL opportunity sooner than later.