Korchinski ready to meet high expectations at Blackhawks
CHICAGO – Kevin Korchinski knows that expectations are high.
The 18-year-old defenseman was selected by the Chicago Blackhawks seventh overall in the last draft, which already comes with a lot of pressure. But there’s also the fact that the pick used to get his hands on Korchinski was also part of the return in the striker’s deal Alex DeBrincatwho scored 41 goals last season, at the Ottawa Senators on July 7.
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“Obviously there’s a little more pressure, but on my side, I’m focused on myself and I want to improve every day,” Korchinski said at Chicago’s development camp on July 11. “I know what kind of hockey player I am and I’m confident in my abilities. For me, the important thing is to make the most of each day and to reach the level where I want to be. »
Korchinski (6-foot-1, 185 pounds) is coming off a stellar season with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League (WHL), where he had 65 points (four goals, 61 assists) in 67 regular season games as well as 19 points (six goals, 13 assists) in 25 playoff games, where Seattle lost to the Edmonton Oil Kings in six games in the WHL Finals.
“He had a good camp here,” said coach Luke Richardson, hired on June 27. “He’s a player who moves the puck well, who closes the space between him and the attackers and who uses his stick well.
« I’m not comparing the two players, but if he can copy [l’ancien défenseur des Blackhawks] Duncan Keith, bringing his game to that same level and watching footage of him, that’s going to help him a lot, because he’s going to be a player who can move the puck and contribute to the offense. He is such a good skater and he uses his stick well. »
Korchinski decided to take inspiration from the Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore to shape his style of play. The two have also evolved with Seattle in the WHL.
“It’s obvious that the offensive aspect is important for me, mentioned Korchinski. He played with the Thunderbirds, and ‘OD’ [Matt O’Dette], our coach in Seattle, ran it. I must therefore develop points similar to his. Things that Shea had to work on when he was my age, and that’s what I’m doing now. I want to improve my defensive game and reach its level a bit, which is to say be one of the best defensemen in the League on both sides of the ice. »
Korchinski says he’s confident he can meet expectations, and the Blackhawks believe him, too.
« What we noticed about Kevin’s game is how well he moves on the ice, » said assistant general manager of development Mark Eaton. “He’s a big guy. When you look at him outside the rink, you see all the potential he has in terms of gaining weight, to become stronger and more massive. It makes us happy.
“We loved seeing how well he already skates and controls the puck with his head up, spots plays on the ice, makes plays, has excellent speed of execution and well analyzes what’s going on. »