A dozen Black Hawks alumni have appeared in NHL games this season, more than in any other single winter. By itself, that is a fairly notable situation; as recently as 2011, there were not 12 former Hawks who had EVER been on the ice for an NHL shift.
The last games of the 2018/19 regular season will be played on Saturday, April 6, now less than eight weeks away. Here are some significant achievements which former Waterloo skaters may have the chance to celebrate between now and then.
#5 – Personal Bests for Hinostroza
An offseason trade from the Chicago Blackhawks to the Arizona Coyotes has created significant opportunities for Vinnie Hinostroza. Chicago drafted him in 2012, and less than four years later, Hinostroza made his debut with him hometown team. However, he shuttled back and forth to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League during at least a portion of each of his three campaigns with the organization.
Despite missing some time just before Christmas this year due to an injury, 2018/19 is likely to be the 24-year-old’s best season in the NHL by nearly every measure. He already has set a new mark for goals in a year (nine, surpassing seven last year). New highs in games played and points seem imminent. Hinostroza’s 46 appearances are four shy of his total from 2017/18 and his 22 points need just a slight boost to equal 25 from a season ago.
So far during February, Hinostroza has two goals and two assists in five Arizona games.
#4 – Thirty Goals, Delayed
It appeared for all the world like Brock Boeser would score 30 goals during his NHL rookie season. As one of the frontrunners for the Calder Trophy, he was on the cusp of a 30-goal year when his 2017/18 campaign was cut short on March 5th by a back injury. Although Boeser was still a Calder finalist whose scoring prowess and amazing flow fascinated the people of Vancouver, last year remains an unfinished “what if…” story. In that sense, his 29 goals in 2017/18 – tantalizingly close to the round number just beyond – might be appropriate.
Making it to the 30-goal threshold this season is not a foregone conclusion, but it is certainly still within reach. Boeser has scored 19 times in 44 games. The Canucks have 25 to go. He is also well on his way to his 100th NHL point (currently at 98).
More importantly, Boeser may have the chance to make his first NHL playoff appearance this spring. The Canucks are the first team out of the final Western Conference wild card position, just two points behind the Minnesota Wild.
#3 – Tracking Toward 300
Craig Smith has played every game of his NHL career with the Nashville Predators. For that matter, aside from four American Hockey League appearances with the Milwaukee Admirals and a smattering of games in Finland during the 2012 NHL lockout, he has spent his entire professional career with the Preds.
Smith debuted on October 7, 2011 and scored a goal in that first game. He is now 11 points shy of 300 during his NHL career. Getting there will happen relatively quickly with a sequence of games similar to the one Smith enjoyed shortly after Christmas. From December 29th through January 7th, the 29-year-old had a point in six consecutive games (seven total points). In total during 2018/19, Smith has recorded 16 goals and 12 assists.
Already among the most successful Black Hawks alumni, Smith’s career scoring mark at the NHL level (289 points) is exceeded only by Joe Pavelski (747) and Jason Blake (486).
#2 – Perfect Attendance for Montour
Last season, Brandon Montour was on the ice for 80 of the Anaheim Ducks’ 82 regular season games. No former Waterloo defenseman has been on the ice more often during one NHL schedule.
So far in 2018/19, Montour hasn’t missed a game.
Among Black Hawks alumni, Mark Eaton and Andrew Alberts were the most prolific and longest-tenured defensemen; both retired earlier this decade. Eaton played in 650 games, with a single season-high of 79 in 2009/10. Alberts dressed 459 times, 79 of them in 2008/09.
Montour has provided the Ducks with plenty of offense too, notching five goals and 19 assists during his second full season in the league. His 62 career points since 2016/17 already exceed Alberts (55 in nine seasons) and are closing in quickly on Eaton (85 in 13 years).
#1 – Another Run at 40
In 2013/14, 29-year-old Joe Pavelski scored 41 goals. It was just the second time a former Black Hawk recorded 40 in one season; Jason Blake had done it in 2006/07. Pavelski came close to 40 each of the next two years: 37 in 2014/15 and 38 in 2015/16.
Now at age 34, Pavelski is making a run at the best goal-scoring season of his career. After his third All-Star appearance last month, he is showing few signs of slowing down. Pavelski has three goals in five games since the All-Star break. For good measure, the vast majority of his scoring has been done at even-strength; Pavelski has just eight power play goals.
He is currently tied for 10th in the NHL with Steven Stamkos and Mark Scheifele. This is already the fifth time in Pavelski’s career that he has scored 30 or more goals.
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