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As a teenager, Andy Hilbert once shared a room with Tyler Arnason at a U.S. junior camp. In 2002, both players were named to the AHL's All-Rookie Team. Now the two will get a chance to play together as linemates for the Blackhawks.
At Hilbert's first Hawk practice Thursday, coach Trent Yawney paired the 24 year old former Bruin with Arnason and Matt Ellison on the 2nd line.
Arnason: "He's got a good shot. He's a pure scorer. I think we need that. We don't have a lot of goals so far on this team, so I think he's going to help."
Hilbert, who led Providence last season with 79 points, ended his conditioning stint with Norfolk in style Wednesday, recording a hat trick in a 5-4 Admirals win over Binghamton. Hilbert scored all three goals in the 3rd period.
Hilbert: "It was nice to get some confidence scoring goals, but my number one goal is just to be 100% and be able to contribute at this level. There's obviously a huge difference between the NHL and the AHL. I'm just excited to be here, excited at the opportunity. I'm chomping at the bit ready to go."
Hilbert saw some action Thursday with the Blackhawks' power play unit -- no surprise considering 16 of his 37 goals last season came with the man advantage. Assistant coach Bruce Cassidy said he expects Hilbert to contribute on special teams this season. The only question is when.
Cassidy: "Well, we'll wait and see. Ultimately that will be Trent's decision. Let's see how he plays 5-on-5 and then he earns his ice time because there's some pretty good players on that power play now -- even though we haven't produced as well as we'd like, there are guys who historically have produced. And so obviously we're going to give them the first attempt. But he is a guy, you're right, who can score goals and hopefully he finds that scoring touch again at the NHL level. Sometimes you get a change in organizations, get a fresh start and that's what we're hoping for."
Hilbert: "Whatever roll they want to put me in is the role I'm happy to have. I'm just going to go out there and give it my best effort, work hard, and I think I'll be fine.
"I'm just going to add, hopefully, an all-around game -- hopefully score some goals and help the team that way. But I also want to be responsible in the defensive zone so I can get out there in different situations and not just be relied upon to be offensive. I want to be an all-around type of player and help that way."
With this Eye on the Hawks report, I'm Adam Kempenaar, chicagoblackhawks.com.
Email Adam Kempenaar at: firstname.lastname@example.org