If you’re like me, you’ve spent most of the last two years screaming at your television (or the ice if you were at the United Center) begging someone to get to the area in front of the net to create traffic and/or score rebounds.
After a really good showing at the Blackhawks’ development camp in early July, Landon Slaggert followed it up with a strong tournament for the United States at the World Juniors. He finished with two goals and four assists in five games, but played his game exactly where fans want to see someone: making life miserable for the opposing goalie.
The Blackhawks’ new front office has talked about how they want the team to play. Heading into his junior season at Notre Dame, Slaggert’s stock is rising with the organization because he’s willing to do the hard work in the dirty areas to make things happen.
Slaggert was the Blackhawks’ third-round pick (No. 79 overall) in the 2020 NHL Draft and joined his brother, Graham, at Notre Dame. He earned Rookie of the Year honors after his freshman campaign for the Irish in which he scored eight goals with 14 assists in 25 games.
Slaggert followed up that performance with 12 goals and 14 assists in 40 games, earning All-Big Ten Honorable Mention Honors.
He was named an alternate captain for the United States both in December when the World Juniors initially began and again in August when they started again. His leadership showed during the tournament; he was used as a top penalty killer throughout the US’s slate of games.
But it was how — and, more importantly, where — Slaggert set up his “office” that made an impression.
Let’s take a look at some of Slaggert’s action from the WJC.
Here’s the first goal he scored in the tournament:
Slaggert is battling around the net, makes himself available. The shot from the goal line isn’t an easy one; frankly, this is a terrible goal for Germany to give up. But where Slaggert was working is noteworthy.
Here he is in the preliminary game against Czechia. Again, note where he’s at on the ice.
Right. In. Front. Of. The. Net.
On this goal, he’s right back in what became his “office” during the tournament. He redirects a shot from Blackhawks’ prospect Wyatt Kaiser to score another goal.
Against the Swiss? Same story. Slaggert in front of the net, battling. On this goal, he’s providing a great screen in front of the goaltender. Though he didn’t pick up a point on the play, the goal goes in because the netminder never saw the puck.
This time, he gets the loose puck and finds a teammate on the back side for an easy score.
Finally, here’s a great look from Slaggert that didn’t end up in the net. But, once again, note where he’s working.
Watching him at the World Juniors over the past couple weeks, Slaggert’s game reminded me of a former first-round pick of the Blackhawks: Ryan Hartman. He pressures the puck well and plays through contract. Watch this clip from this past season at Notre Dame:
Again, he wins a board battle, attacks the space in front of the net and makes a good pass through traffic to find an available teammate (in this case, his brother). And, surprise surprise! Here he is back in February depositing loose change for the Irish.
Indications are that the Blackhawks will look to sign Slaggert after his junior season. His strong showings at the development camp and World Juniors should only bolster the Blackhawks’ desire to get him signed and into the organization to continue his development.