Second City Hockey’s 2021-22 preseason Blackhawks Top 25 Under 25 series ranks the organization’s top 25 players under the age of 25 by Oct. 1, 2021. The rankings are determined by a composite score from all four SCH writers. 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 didn’t make the opening roster in his rookie season. He missed the first game against the Lightning on Jan. 13, scratched in favor of Brandon Pirri. That was a mistake the Blackhawks didn’t make twice, as Kurashev played 55 of the next 56 games.
On a team that lacked scoring depth in 2021, Kurashev made his presence felt in those 54 games as well. After a season in the AHL when Kurashev scored just seven goals, he followed it up by starting the 2020-21 season in the Swiss League with zero goals in 13 games — but nine assists. That likely didn’t set a great expectation for Kurashev’s scoring, but he did indeed score once coming over for the start of the NHL season, his eight goals being the eighth-best in the Blackhawks’ lineup.
Kurashev represents scoring depth moving forward for the Blackhawks, as well as flexibility. Kurashev is a forward who could complete the line with Jonathan Toews and Dominik Kubalik just as well as he could play with Tyler Johnson on the third line.
On a team including Patrick Kane and Brandon Hagel, Philipp Kurashev was one of the best skaters, and one of his best plays of the season involved him splitting the defense at the blue line and streaking into the crease for a goal.
That’s a rare play for those who aren’t among the NHL’s best skaters and Kurashev may be.
Kurashev was at his best with talented teammates. Kurashev spent 213:16 with Dominik Kubalik and the duo racked up a 66.67 percent goal share (eight for, four against) in that time. It’ll be interesting to see Kurashev potentially play with Toews, or to see if Kubalik’s goal scoring ways can rebound in 2021-22. If they can, Kurashev’s playmaking ability may also flourish in his sophomore effort.
To really bring it all together, however, Kurashev just needs to show more consistency moving forward. In his first NHL season, Kurashev showed that he has all the tools at his disposal, it’s just about using them properly and learning to use them continuously. If Kurashev can put it all together, well, we’ve already talked about just how good the European scouting staff is for this organization.