Second City Hockey’s 2020-21 preseason Blackhawks Top 25 Under 25 series ranks the organization’s top 25 players under the age of 25 by Oct. 1, 2020. The rankings are determined by a composite score from three SCH writers and community member, L_B_R. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production against future projection to rank each player. All four ballots will be released after the series is completed.
Philipp Kurashev got his first real taste of AHL hockey last season after spending the 2018-19 season making an impact internationally with Team Switzerland. While he didn’t produce many goals — an offshoot of just 63 shots in 36 games — his assists showcase his best ability: playmaking.
He’s now impacting HC Lugano in the same way. While he’s yet to score a goal in 12 NLA games, he’s had 8 assists so far in the 2020-21 season proving his shot and scoring ability are already assets. Kurashev can get to the high-danger areas and get off well-placed wrist shots, but his shot production needs to see an increase if he’s going to be a top-six threat.
Kurashev also has the ability to impact the team defensively. He has a well-rounded skill set which has helped him transition to the professional game. He also has good skating ability and a good neutral-zone game.
Kurashev has the skills to make an impact at the NHL level. The question is whether he can put those skills together consistently and stay healthy enough to make the jump from the AHL to the NHL. He has not played a full season of games in the last three years and missed 27 games in 2019-20.
Kurashev is currently playing with HC Lugano in the NLA. Whenever the AHL season starts, he will return to Rockford and likely play an important part in the IceHogs’ top six and power play. If injuries strike the Blackhawks next season, he should be one of the leading candidates to fill in the gaps.