Former Waterloo Black Hawks have combined to appear in 108 National Hockey League games so far during the 2019/20 season. At this point, the Hawks’ NHL alumni club includes seven players this winter; six of them are forwards. Seven other alumni who played in at least one NHL game last season are currently skating in the American Hockey League on NHL contracts.
With the season quickly approaching its one-quarter mark, here’s a player-by-player rundown:
Joe Pavelski – Dallas Stars
(Waterloo: 2002/03 – 03/04)
Before a 3-2 overtime setback against the Jets on Sunday, the Stars had won four consecutive games. That surge briefly pushed Dallas above .500. Like his team, Pavelski’s season has been improving in recent weeks. After 13 years with the San Jose Sharks, Pavelski’s first Dallas goal came on October 16th, his eighth appearance in a new sweater. He’s now up to three goals and five assists, including a three point (one goal, two assist) performance against the Minnesota Wild on October 29th.
Craig Smith – Nashville Predators
(Waterloo: 2006/07 – 08/09)
On October 19th, Smith appeared in his 600th NHL regular season game – all for Nashville – when the Predators were edged in a 3-2 shootout by the Florida Panthers. He also recorded his 300th career point this year, thanks to an opening night assist versus the Minnesota Wild. Smith now has two goals and four assists in 2019/20. He is also +6, which ranks fifth on the team. In each of the last six seasons, Smith has been a “plus” player for the year, including a career-best +20 in 2017/18.
Vinnie Hinostroza – Arizona Coyotes
(Waterloo: 2010/11 – 12/13)
Barring the unforeseen, next week Hinostroza will join Smith among former Waterloo players reaching a career games milestone. With 18 appearances this fall, he is now 197 as an NHL’er. From November 5th through 11th, he had a point in four straight games (two goals, two assists). That gives him six points (two goals, four assists) for the year. Hinostroza’s 39 points for Arizona last year equaled his total points over parts of three earlier seasons for the Chicago Blackhawks.
Brandon Montour – Buffalo Sabres
(Waterloo: 2013/14 – 14/15)
Montour was sidelined by an upper body injury for all of October. He made his season debut against the New York Islanders on November 2nd. His return to the lineup came just in time to join the Sabres for a trip to Sweden as part of the NHL Global Series. Buffalo lost twice to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Stockholm last Friday and Saturday. However, Montour did record his first assist of the season during Saturday’s game.
Brock Boeser – Vancouver Canucks
Boeser has produced the biggest numbers of any former Black Hawk in the NHL so far this season. He has eight goals and 11 assists in 19 games. The year has already been highlighted by an October 30th hat trick versus the L.A. Kings (adding an assist, it was a four-point game). It was the third hat trick of his NHL career. Going into a Thursday night game versus Dallas, Boeser is hoping to build on a three-game point streak and help keep the Canucks within a few points of the Western Conference leaders.
Zach Sanford – St. Louis Blues
The St. Louis Blues have been right back on top of the Western Conference after winning the Stanley Cup last season. St. Louis has a dozen wins in their first 19 games. Sanford has played in 14 of those, with three points (one goal, two assists) so far. His first goal of the season helped the Blues earn a 5-4 overtime win against the Detroit Red Wings on October 27th. More chances may come with additional ice time; Sanford has played over 14 minutes in three of his last four appearances, up from single digits early in the year.
Patrick Russell – Edmonton Oilers
Russell recorded his first NHL point on Sunday with an assist on Zach Kassian’s goal against the Anaheim Ducks. He then made it two points in two games Tuesday, helping to create a Sam Gagner goal in a 6-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks. While the points could be an affirmation that the 26-year-old Dane can contribute at the NHL level, better still is the consistency with which the Oilers have listed Russell on the line chart. His 17 appearances already in 2019/20, nearly triple the six games he played for Edmonton last year.
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