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Where Are They Now: Black Hawks in the NHL 1/18

By WBH, 01/18/18, 10:30AM CST



The second half of the National Hockey League schedule has begun for all 31 of the NHL’s teams.  Some nights, there have been so many former Waterloo Black Hawks on the ice that you couldn’t watch them all at once.  There have been a lot of great stories related to Hawks alumni in 2017/18: an Olympian (Chad Billins), an NHL All-Star (Brock Boeser), and medals at the World Junior Championships (Mikey Anderson and Dylan Samberg).  Perhaps the most remarkable story – even if it does not grab the headlines – is the number of former Hawks who have become NHL regulars.  Player-by-player, here is a look at the first half of the season:

Joe Pavelski – San Jose Sharks
(Waterloo: 2002/03 – 03/04)

On Saturday, Pavelski recorded a season-best three-point game with a goal and two assists during a 6-5 Sharks win against the Arizona Coyotes.  That included an assist on Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s game-winner.  Tuesday night, he lifted the Sharks to another win against Arizona, scoring the only shootout goal in a 3-2 decision.  In 43 appearances, Pavelski has nine goals and 20 assists, helping San Jose to second place in the Pacific Division.

Craig Smith – Nashville Predators
(Waterloo: 2006/07 – 08/09)

At the midpoint of 2017/18, Smith is on pace for the highest goal total of his NHL career.  With a repeat of the first half, the seventh-year veteran would approach the 52 total points he stacked up in 2013/14 (Smith currently has 15 goals and 25 points in 42 games).  Significantly, the speedy forward has been finding the net five-on-five.  Prior to a power play goal last Tuesday versus the Edmonton Oilers, his previous seven scores had been at even strength.

J.T. Brown – Anaheim Ducks
(Waterloo: 2008/09 – 09/10)

Brown has a new home.  After 286 regular season games with the Tampa Bay Lightning, he was claimed off waivers by the Ducks and made his debut for Anaheim on the road Monday.  Visiting the Colorado Avalanche, he charted an assist during a 3-1 win.  The Ducks have indicated they will experiment with Brown in various roles.  Prior to relocating, he had a goal and three assists in 24 appearances for the Bolts.

Vinnie Hinostroza – Chicago Blackhawks
(Waterloo: 2010/11 – 12/13)

A good season which began with success in Rockford with the Blackhawks American Hockey League affiliate has taken a turn for the even-better since Hinostroza was recalled by Chicago in December.  Getting the opportunity to play with Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad, Hinostroza has nine points (three goals, six assists) in 15 games.  He is just five points shy of matching his total from last season, when he skated in 49 contests. 

Brandon Montour – Anaheim Ducks
(Waterloo: 2013/14 – 14/15)

Among the Ducks, Montour is the second-highest defensive scorer with six goals and 14 assists.  He has also been responsible in his own defensive zone with a +10 plus/minus margin.  Montour has been steady as a blue-liner throughout his brief time in the NHL; last season, he was +11.  Still, Waterloo and Anaheim fans are likely to think of Montour first as a scoring defenseman.  His point total currently ties for 40th league-wide among D-men.

Brock Boeser – Vancouver Canucks
(Waterloo: 2014/15)

For the first time this season, Boeser has been held without a point for three consecutive games.  Now consider that phrased a little differently: Boeser has not been held without a goal or an assist for more than three consecutive games this season.  He continues to be the head-and-shoulders-above the rest of the Vancouver roster in scoring, with 22 goals and 40 points.  Later this month, he will have the chance to showcase his skills during the NHL’s All-Star Weekend.

Ian McCoshen – Florida Panthers
(Waterloo: 2010/11 – 12/13)

McCoshen has dressed for 29 of the Panthers’ 43 games this season.  He has three goals with just 22 shots on net.  Florida is currently nine points out of a playoff spot, but they have picked up 13 of the last 20 possible standings points.

Justin Kloos – Minnesota Wild
(Waterloo: 2010/11 – 12/13)

After making his NHL debut on October 24th, Kloos has spent the balance of the year in the AHL.  He currently sits third among Iowa Wild players with 29 points.

Zach Sanford – St. Louis Blues
(Waterloo: 2013/14)

Sanford’s first NHL appearance of the season will still be weeks-to-months in the future, but there are positive signs, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which quoted Coach Mike Yeo in early January: “For me in camp, day one, he goes down, that was a big blow. I was expecting big things from Zach this year and hopefully he can turn this season around and still be a positive. He’s a kid with a real bright future. He’s got size, he’s got skill, he’s got sort of an attitude and presence around him that you like in hockey players.”

The current stories and stats surrounding this season’s class of former Black Hawks in the NHL might have been the equivalent of a full season (or even several years) during the not-too-distant past.  Here’s to more big goals, milestones, and special moments for Black Hawks alumni during the second half of this year’s NHL schedule.

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