One of the Blackhawks players receiving an increasing amount of attention during the preseason has been 21-year-old forward Joakim Nordstrom. Now that he's made the Opening Night roster, many fans will be asking: who is this kid?
Nordstrom will be the first player from the Hawks' 2010 Draft class to make the NHL. He was the team's third round pick (90th overall) in the draft that followed the team's first Cup win in almost a half century; the demolition of that roster led to the Blackhawks having five picks in the first two rounds of that draft, making Nordstrom the team's sixth selection that summer.
Over the last four years, Nordstrom has spent most of his time playing with AIK in the Swedish Elite League. In 101 games with AIK in the SEL, Nordstrom contributed only 16 points (eight goals, eight assists). He signed his entry-level contract with the Blackhawks on May 29, 2012, but played most of last season with AIK again.
In 2012, Nordstrom helped lead Sweden to the gold medal at the 2012 World Junior Championships, where he tied for second on the team with four goals, ranked third with a plus-6 rating and posted five points (four goals, one assist) in six tournament games.
He joined the IceHogs for 11 games down the stretch last year and contributed three assists with 12 penalty minutes.
In four preseason games with the Hawks, Nordstrom is averaging 14:35 per night and has scored one goal. He has skated almost seven minutes of short-handed ice time, and has spent time on PK in each of the preseason games in which he has appeared. He has also seen time on the power play in three of his four preseason appearances, skating 2:31 with an advantage in the Hawks' shootout loss in Pittsburgh.
Now, he's made the roster of the defending Stanley Cup champions. The Blackhawks will use him as a fourth line wing and as a penalty killer (in the Michael Frolik role).
The NHL has been patiently waiting for the 2010 Draft to make a significant impact on the league. Only half (15) of the players selected in the first round that year have played in more than 20 NHL games to date, and only six players selected after the first round in 2010 have played in more than 20 NHL games.