Markus Naslund... Henrik Zetterberg... Pavel Vorobiev? The 23 year old rookie's name may have seemed out of place among the runner-ups for NHL Offensive Player of the Week, but Vorobiev's hot start isn't a surprise to teammates like Matt Ellison.
Ellison: "No, you know, Pav's got great skill and he's getting the opportunities and right now he's working hard for them. He's capitalizing on his quality scoring chances and as long as he keeps working hard and getting in positions to score, he's going to keep burying it because he's got a great shot, great skill, and he's a guy that can do that."
A teammate of Vorobiev's the past two season in Norfolk, Ellison credits much of Vorobiev's success to his improved consistency and dedication to off-season training. Vorobiev has put on 12 pounds since he was drafted in the 1st round of the 2000 Entry Draft and is no longer getting pushed around the way he did when he first arrived in North America from Russia.
Blackhawks coach Trent Yawney believes Vorobiev has just scratched the surface of his potential.
Yawney: "He's bought in to what we'v tried to give him in terms of tools and making him into a more well-rounded player. And the other part is the fact that he's spent a lot of time -- it's not just been a summer program; it's been a two-year program -- and you've got to give him credit where credit's due."
While fellow Russian draft picks like Anton Babchuk, Mikhail Yakubov and Igor Radulov are still in Norfolk, in Russia or out of the Blackhawk system completely, Vorobiev has endured, showing a willingness to adapt both as a player and a person.
Vorobiev: "It's different hockey. In Russia it's much more passes, more skills guys and not so many shots and different systems. When I came to Norfolk it was very difficult for me and Trent really helped me in the system and now I feel much more comfortable and [have] much more confidence."
Off the ice, Vorobiev was the most committed European player in Norfolk when it came to studying and learning English.
Yawney: "He just worked harder, that's all. I mean, that's just simple... I'm going to do it and I'm not looking back, as opposed to that, 'Well, I'll try tomorrow.' He made a conscious effort of getting better with the language to make his life easier and, again, he deserves credit. We gave him the tools with the English lessons, but he's the one that made sure that he spoke English in situations where English was being spoken and caught on a lot quicker."
Vorobiev: "Yes, it's very important when you understand everything -- when you understand what the coach wants, see on the ice what you he wants to do. And I want to learn English; I want to understand everything. It may be a little bit difficult, but I try to understand everything and if I don't understand, I ask some other guys."
With this Eye on the Hawks report, I'm Adam Kempenaar, chicagoblackhawks.com.
Email web producer Adam Kempenaar at: email@example.com.