I don’t think I’m speaking out of line when I say that a significant portion of the Chicago Blackhawks fan base is in need of a severe pick-me-up on this Monday morning, due to a rather unfortunate series of circumstances which unfolded Sunday night in another segment of the Chicago sports scene. I’m also in this portion and, therefore, feel this need as well. So, with the Blackhawks’ training camp set to begin Friday, let’s look at one player who could be trending toward a breakout season in 2018-19: forward Victor Ejdsell.
This article will not be the first to make this proclamation. Chicago Sun-Times’ reporter Mark Lazerus discussed this very thing in a Sunday article after Ejdsell continued to flourish with two goals as the Blackhawks picked up a 5-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday during the annual prospect tournament in Traverse City, Michigan.
Each of his goals were scored on blistering wrist shots, one of the unique talents Ejdsell has displayed during the tournament and the Rockford IceHogs’ Calder Cup Playoff run. In 13 postseason games, Ejdsell had seven goals with five assists, emerging as one of Rockford’s biggest scoring threats. And the two goals he scored on Saturday have only heightened the buzz building around the 2018 trade deadline acquisition, coming to Chicago in the deal that sent Ryan Hartman to the Nashville Predators for Ejdsell and a first-round pick that became Nicolas Beaudin.
With a 6-foot-5, 214-pound frame and a wicked wrist shot, Ejdsell’s game conjures memories of former Blackhawk Eric Daze (and if he reaches that level, it’d suit this blogger just fine). There’s still a long way to go between Ejdsell’s level and a player who had four 30-goal seasons, but there are a few recent cases of Blackhawks players putting it all together while playing in Rockford.
Two years ago, Nick Schmaltz debuted with the Blackhawks, got demoted to Rockford when he wasn’t playing well, then came back to the NHL a few months later and established himself as a top-six forward. Vinnie Hinostroza was also an improved player when the Blackhawks called him up last December after he started the season playing with the IceHogs.
There’s plenty to like about Ejdsell. His size and shot suggest he could be an asset to a Blackhawks’ power play that struggled mightily over the last few seasons (and Rockford’s was red-hit during the postseason run, with Ejdsell a key cog). The knock on Ejdsell was always his skating ability, but he’s reportedly been working on that all offseason, as he told the Sun-Times in the above article.
Chicago’s center positions appear occupied by the combination of Schmaltz, Jonathan Toews, Marcus Kruger, David Kampf and Artem Anisimov all vying for spots. But the battle for multiple wing positions — including one in the top six — will be something to watch during training camp.
And Ejdsell should be in the thick of those battles.