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Blackhawks Top 25 Under 25: Dylan Sikura continues to be an important presence

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The winger finally scored his first NHL goal and leads the Nos. 11-15 group.

Detroit Red Wings v Chicago Blackhawks
Dylan Sikura of the Chicago Blackhawks reacts after scoring against the Detroit Red Wings in NHL action
Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images

The third part of Second City Hockey’s Top 25 Under 25 series focuses on Nos. 11 to 15. The group features two defensemen and three forwards, including two forwards on the bubble between the Blackhawks and IceHogs.

All rankings are calculated on a composite score based on votes from Second City Hockey’s four writers.

No. 15 — Brandon Hagel

Position: Forward
Birth date: Aug. 27, 1998 (21)
Acquired via: Free agency
Team: Rockford IceHogs (AHL)
Stats: 22 points (14 goals, 8 assists) in 42 AHL games
Size: 6-foot-1, 174 pounds
Contract: 2 years, $880,833 (RFA)
Rankings: 13 (Shepard); 17 (Dave)
Last T25U25 ranking: 19. Up 4 spots.

In a crowded AHL forward group, Hagel continues to be a standout. Through the first part of his rookie AHL season, he impressed enough to earn an NHL call up, although he didn’t make his NHL debut. Hagel adds scoring and speed in a top-six role. His 14 goals lead the team while his 22 points are second. Coming off a 102-point performance in Red Deer of the WHL, Hagel has continued to excel, and could get another look with the Blackhawks once they exit their bye week.

No. 14 — Artur Kayumov

Position: Forward
Birth date: Feb. 14, 1998 (21)
Acquired via: 2016 NHL Draft — second round (50th overall)
Team: Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (KHL)
Stats: 20 points (13 goals, 7 assists) in 52 KHL games
Size: 5’11”, 181 pounds
Contract: Unsigned
Rankings: 12 (Dave); 19 (Shepard)
Last T25U25 ranking: Unranked.

Kayumov has a very similar game to Hagel’s and both players have similar stats, albeit in very different hockey leagues. Kayumov is tied for second in goals and fifth in points, while playing an average of 15:39 per game. That’s an expanded role from last season when he produced 13 points (including five goals) in 46 games, averaging 14:08 per game.

Kayumov has a powerful stride and a great understanding of how to develop chances, as this shows:

The problem with Kayumov is getting him over to the United States, as he signed a two-year extension with Lokomotiv on Dec. 24 and does not seem hungry to leave Russia quite yet. That seems to be a universal problem with Russian prospects (ask Minnesota). He’s talented, but there’s no clear timeline of when he will come stateside.

No. 13 — Alex Vlasic

Position: Left-handed defenseman
Birth date: June 5, 2001 (18)
Acquired via: 2019 NHL Draft — second round (No. 43)
Team: Boston University Terriers (NCAA)
Stats: 3 assists in 23 NCAA games
Size: 6’6”, 198 pounds
Contract: Unsigned
Rankings: 11 (Shepard); 14 (Dave)
Last T25U25 ranking: 9. Down 4 spots.

Vlasic has not produced a lot offensively during his freshman season, but he’s doing well defensively and earning time on a crowded Boston University blue line. He plays between the second- and third-line pairings, has controlled the number of penalties he’s taken, plays clean defense and is a member of the Terrier’s penalty kill units:

After a decently productive draft year between the USNTDP and USHL (42 points in 88 games, including six goals), Vlasic still has room to grow into both his body (he’s still lacking some weight for his 6’6” frame) and into his game.

No. 12 — Alec Regula

Position: Right-handed defenseman
Birth date: Aug. 6, 2000 (19)
Acquired via: 2019 trade with Detroit
Team: London Knights (OHL)
Stats: 35 points (15 goals, 20 assists) in 40 OHL games
Size: 6’4”, 205 pounds
Contract: 3 year, 897,500 (RFA)
Rankings: 10 (Matt, Shepard); 13 (Dave)
Last T25U25 ranking: Unranked.

Regula, acquired in the October trade of Brendan Perlini to the Red Wings, has been one of the better defensemen in the OHL this season. Regula is tied for 11th in scoring among OHL defensemen, a point behind 10th with six games in hand, and he’s scored the third most goals among that group. He’s almost reached his total from last season (39) and has successfully built on it, which is not bad for a third round pick.

Regula has the size (6’4”) to be a force in his own zone as well, and can move up on the play like a forward in order to get optimal results:

While the Blackhawks have their power-play quarterback sorted out (Regula’s former teammate in London, Adam Boqvist) for the future, it’s nice knowing they might have multiple options if Regula pans out. That’s what holds him back on this list, however, is that it’s not a guarantee, and defensemen take some time. Regula might be a few years before he’s ready to join the Blackhawks’ blue line, but he’s another piece on what is turning into a nice group.

No. 11 — Dylan Sikura

Position: Forward
Birth date: June 1, 1995 (24)
Acquired via: 2014 NHL Draft — sixth round (178th overall)
Team: Rockford IceHogs (AHL)
Stats: 3 points (1 goal, 2 assists) in 9 NHL games; 21 points (10 goals, 11 assists) in 27 AHL games
Size: 5’11”, 165 pounds
Contract: 2 year, 750,000 (RFA)
Rankings: 9 (Brandon); 13 (Matt)
Last T25U25 ranking: 13. Up 2 spots.

Sikura rose in the rankings for a few reasons, but one of them is likely he finally broke his goalless drought in the NHL, and has three points in nine NHL games this season.

While he was returned to Rockford after a brief respite in the NHL, including more games where he was scratched than where he played (or at least it feels that way), he looked good offensively for once, even if he was not always given the best opportunities with ice time.

Sikura is in midst of a highly productive season in the AHL where he has 21 points in 27 games, the best point-per-game pace in his career. Sikura has a proven track record of being good in his own end, and just needs to find more consistency offensively in the NHL.