Hawks Insider

Sikura returns to Blackhawks as ‘a different player'


Dylan Sikura has been a goal scorer and point producer practically his whole life, but for whatever reason, he went 43 games into his NHL career with the Blackhawks without a goal. He was so snake-bitten that it took three seasons for him to finally break through.

Well, 11 seconds into his second stint with the Blackhawks — albeit, in the preseason — Sikura found the back of the net in Wednesday's 4-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings. It was an "are you kidding me?" kind of moment.

"A little ironic, right?" Sikura said with a chuckle. "It's funny how that works. It's something that was obviously missing in my game. ... We were kind of joking around today, usually when you play a game and score one early, you feel so good but I think it was so early that it's almost like nothing even happened. I hadn't touched the puck, I hadn't even skated yet, so it got me into the game a little bit but at the same time, I was trying to find my feet there. It was almost too early."

Sikura, a sixth-round draft choice in 2014, was once considered Chicago's top prospect but never could quite hit his potential with the NHL club in his first go-around and was eventually traded to Vegas for Brandon Pirri. His production didn't translate with the Blackhawks, even though he was often times the best player on the ice for the AHL's Rockford IceHogs.

I think a lot of that had to do with Sikura's ice time always being blocked by players like Alex DeBrincat, Patrick Kane, Brandon Saad, Dylan Strome and Jonathan Toews, etc. when he was called up. He was getting first-line minutes and top power-play time in Rockford but there was just no way he was going to see that kind of ice in Chicago, so Sikura was relegated to playing third-line minutes in the NHL and that just didn't suit his game at the time.

Another part probably had to do with the fact he was a one-dimensional player. When he wasn't scoring, Sikura struggled to find different ways to be an impact-type player and gain that trust from the coaching staff.

Now, Sikura is back with the Blackhawks for a second stint after signing a one-year, two-way contact ($750,000 cap hit) in July and he feels like "a different player."

"I've matured a lot than my first years of pro here," Sikura said. "You kind of go through the ringer and learn a lot about yourself and as a player, on and off the ice. I think just life experiences help you as a player, as well.

"Being in Vegas, I got to play a couple games in playoffs there two years ago and then obviously being a part of the run last year with Colorado and seeing them win, you learn and take things from that and take things from teams I've been a part of. I think I'm more of a 200-foot player."

It was a mindset shift for Sikura, who obviously realized he needed to round out his game to get in and then stay in the lineup. He added 20 pounds of muscle since the last time he was here, and that's gone a long way for his confidence.

"I think just not getting pushed off the puck, stronger in battles," Sikura said of how his weight gain has helped him. "I don't think my first year I even went to the net at all but now just doing little things like going to the net and being able to box guys out, having a little confidence in your own body. I lacked that a little bit where I was getting pushed around or just shied away from some of those spaces because I knew I couldn't win those battles, but now with a little added extra weight, I have confidence in those areas."

The Blackhawks probably view Sikura as a player who can play with Lukas Reichel in Rockford for some scoring help, but that doesn't mean Sikura isn't eyeing a potential NHL spot out of camp. It should be noted that he would have to go through waivers if he doesn't make the 23-man roster. 

"If you ask anyone here, they want to be here and they want to help this team," Sikura said. "If I have to go down to Rockford and do the same thing I've done over the last couple years and go down there and show that you're worthy of getting called up and being a part of this league, then it is what it is. But I'm looking forward to having a really strong preseason here and pushing for a spot."

Click here to subscribe to the Blackhawks Talk Podcast for free.


Contact Us