Blackhawks Prospects Korchinski, Del Mastro, and Savoie Excited for NHL Debuts

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Kevin Korchinski Blackhawks 2022 NHL Draft

Blackhawks Prospects Korchinski, Del Mastro, and Savoie Excited for NHL Debuts

Chicago Blackhawks

The new-look Chicago Blackhawks will take the ice for the first time under new head coach Luke Richardson tonight when the St. Louis Blues visit the United Center.

There will be a lot of emotions in the rink this evening for many reasons. Richardson is making his debut while two veterans might be starting their final run for the only franchise they’ve ever represented. But for three young players, their learning curve takes another big step forward tonight.

At the morning skate today, we saw how the Blackhawks will start the night. Here are the lines and defensive pairs that will skate in front of both Petr Mrazek and Alex Stalock, who are expected to split the duties between the pipes (we include the numbers for the new guys):

Andreas Athanasiou (89) — Max Domi (13) — Patrick Kane
Taylor Raddysh — Jonathan Toews — Tyler Johnson
Colin Blackwell (43) — Cole Guttman (70) — Buddy Robinson (53)
Michal Teplý (71) — Josiah Slavin (36) — Samuel Savoie (67)

Seth Jones — Alex Vlasic
Kevin Korchinski (55) — Connor Murphy
Caleb Jones — Ethan Del Mastro (38)

If you’re keeping score at home, that’s a lot of new guys. But there were three that I specifically wanted to talk about before the game tonight.

Richardson said after practice that management weighed in on who is skating tonight to see some of the younger guys while they’re still around. He’s looking for chemistry up front in style, skill and ability and paired his younger defensemen with veterans to get them some experience.

Three of these prospects — Korchinski, Del Mastro and Savoie — are likely heading back to their junior teams at some point in the not-too-distant future. Which means Korchinski (Seattle — WHL), Del Mastro (Mississauga — OHL), and Savoie (Gatineau — QMJHL) might already have their next travel plans booked.

But all three are skating on United Center ice for the first time tonight.

Yeah, it’s a preseason game. But it’s still the NHL. And for two of the three, this will be the biggest barn they’ve ever played in; Del Mastro skated in front of a big house in Edmonton earlier this summer with Canada in the World Juniors. But even he is amped up for his kinda-sorta NHL debut tonight.

Each of the three has been noticeable on the ice since the start of the summer at the Blackhawks’ development camp after the draft in July.

Kevin Korchinski Chicago Blackhawks NHL Draft

Kevin Korchinski

Korchinski’s speed and offensive instincts have made it clear why the Blackhawks wanted him in the draft. After the morning skate, Richardson said he’d like to see Korchinski shoot the puck more often. It’s easy for some young players to defer to older guys, especially with veterans like Seth Jones and Murphy on the blue line.

But Richardson sees enough skill in Korchinski’s game that he’s been working with the power play and is expected to see some action there tonight if the opportunity presents itself.

“It’s going to be cool to play in my first exhibition game,” Korchinski said. “I’m pumped and excited to get out there… Your first NHL game is really special. It’s something you dream of as a kid. It’s going to be a great moment.”

He said he’s been adjusting to the pace of the game at the professional level. He’s trying to feel it out still and be simple and play within the structure. Korchinski said veterans have reminded to keep it simple on the ice and stay confident, and coaches have pointed out some little things that he might be able to get away with in juniors that won’t work against NHL players.

“I’ve grown up playing hockey. Hockey just comes to me; it’s what I love to do. So I’m going out there I’m just going to try to have fun and play my game and play to the best of my ability. I’ve put in the work over my life so now I just want to get out there and play.”

Ethan Del Mastro

When I spoke to Del Mastro during the prep before the Tom Kurvers Prospect Showcase a couple weeks ago, we talked about how skating with Team Canada prepared him for the next step in his career. He’ll be the captain for Mississauga for a second season this year.

“Obviously there’s a lot of excitement and a little nerves but it’s still a sheet of ice,” he said. “I’ve played in front of a lot of fans in the past so I’m just going to try to focus on doing my best and not worry about what’s going on around the ice.”

Del Mastro said the coaches have encouraged him to use his size to his advantage. He skates pretty well so using his feet and his size are two things he brings to the ice that excite the organization. He did say the stickwork from the guys in the NHL camp was a surprise in training camp; how active players are with their sticks and hard in the corners was an adjustment for him.

He isn’t worried about getting too excited for his NHL debut because he’s been pretty level-headed in big games throughout his career thus far. Playing for Canada on a gold medal roster helped, and he said again that his experience this summer was a great springboard into the professional ranks.

“I was playing with some of the best guys in Canada,” he said. “A lot of those guys are first rounders and guys who are looking to crack NHL roster so obviously some of them have played at this level already. That kind of pace and in that environment so being in that situation has been a big help.”

Samuel Savoie

Richardson got a good laugh from the media this morning when he said Savoie is a guy who likes to mix it up at the bottom of the ocean. But he nailed it — Savoie is the kind of guy who gets better with more energy. He needs to be engaged all the time, and does a good job of finding the action.

“It’s already a dream,” he said. “Everybody wishes to be here. It’s awesome to be here with Toews and everyone. I grew up watching them so being on the ice with them is awesome. I’m excited for tonight.”

He said the Blackhawks community has been great because everyone wants the best for each other. All of the veterans have been helpful as he’s gone through the NHL training camp.

For him, the surprise has been the precision with which the game is played at the NHL level. Maybe not a surprise, but it’s reinforced what he needs to work on to get to the highest level. But he knows if he continues to be himself and work hard there’s a place for his game.

“They’re elite,” he said. “They’re the best at what they do. Passing is always crisp. They don’t make a lot of mistakes and hockey is a game of mistakes so I’m going to have to play my best to keep up with them tonight.”

And no, he isn’t worried about being too amped up. He’s an in-the-moment guy so he’s excited for his debut. The Blackhawks have openly loved his energy thus far and like seeing him around the net, so he’ll get plenty of action to engage in tonight.

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Author: Tab Bamford

Tab is the Lead Blackhawks voice for BN. He is the author of two books about the Blackhawks, most recently "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter at @The1Tab