Two years ago, Dylan Sikura was ranked No. 22 on this list, as the hype around sixth-round draft picks tends to stay quiet. But then Sikura had a breakout sophomore season at Northeastern University and was the talk of the 2017 prospect camp, bumping him up to No. 8 in the 2017 rankings. Concerns about his future were alleviated when he signed with the Blackhawks in March and made his NHL debut soon after. Now, the question becomes whether or not the skilled-yet-diminutive forward can translate his college success to the NHL level.
Birth date: June 1, 1995
Acquired via: 2014 NHL Draft — sixth round (178th overall)
Most recent stop: Chicago Blackhawks — NHL
Size: 5’11, 158 pounds
Contract: One year, $925,000 cap hit (entry-level contract)
Last year’s ranking: No. 8
In Sikura’s senior season at Northeastern, he scored 20 goals with 32 assists — including 13 power play goals, the best mark in college hockey — and led the Huskies to the NCAA Tournament, where they were eliminated by Michigan in the first round. Within a week of that loss, Sikura signed a two-year deal with the Blackhawks and made his NHL debut on March 29 against the Winnipeg Jets. He picked up two assists that night — better remembered as the Scott Foster game — and finished the season with three assists in five games.
And in that NHL debut against Winnipeg, Sikura flashed some of the ability that generated so much hype during his college career. Fast-forward to the 2:00 mark of the video below to watch him pick up a drop pass from Victor Ejdsell and wheel to the net for a scoring chance. Then skip ahead to the 2:55 mark and watch Sikura make a nifty breakout pass to Alex DeBrincat, who then sent Erik Gustafsson off for a breakaway goal.
While it’s difficult to draw any substantial conclusions from that brief sample of games for Sikura last season, he didn’t do anything to silence the buzz around him. The Athletic’s Scott Powers ranked Sikura as the No. 1 prospect in the Blackhawks organization this summer. Powers’ colleague, Corey Pronman, had Sikura at No. 2 among Chicago prospects behind top-ten pick Adam Boqvist earlier in August. This remains one of the Hawks most interesting prospects and the 2018-19 season should provide the first good, long look at what Sikura can do at the NHL level.
What’s next in 2018-19?
Sikura is expected to be on the Blackhawks opening night roster this season, but the question remains about where he’ll slot into Joel Quenneville’s lineup. His offensive prowess suggests that he’d be best-served in a top-six role. Three of those four spots on the wings will go to DeBrincat, Brandon Saad and Patrick Kane. Sikura would have to be the front-runner for the other open position, but that could make for some undersized forward lines in the Chicago lineup — something Quenneville hasn’t always been a fan of, as indicated by his reluctance in putting together a line of Kane, DeBrincat and Nick Schmaltz. Where and how the Hawks utilize Sikura will be one of the bigger stories to watch when training camp arrives in September.