No prospect has made bigger strides in his development as forward Dylan Sikura, who was selected in the sixth round of the 2014 NHL Draft. Over three seasons at Northeastern, he's shown concrete improvements year after year, ranging from building up his physical game to finding his scoring touch, a trajectory that has impressed the Blackhawks brass. Below is his profile, one of eight featured in the March/April issue of Blackhawks Magazine, on sale now.
Maybe no one expected a sixth-round draft pick with a beanpole build like Dylan Sikura to shine quite so brightly in one of the toughest conferences in college hockey, but there he was at the end of the Hockey East regular season with 53 points to his name, second-most on a volatile Northeastern offense and a standout on one of the most dynamic lines in the NCAA. That total included two hat tricks, 18 multi-point outings and three point streaks of six or more games.
The 21-year-old has always played creatively, setting up plays with precise passing, but this year he's found confidence in his shot, becoming a 20-goal scorer for the first time since Triple A.
"He's playing so well, he's so confident and he's getting so many chances, and if you can get him to shoot more he's going to get a lot of goals," Development Coach Derek Plante said. "He's kind of realizing that -- it was a focus going into the season -- and he becomes more of a threat if he can shoot more. It's paying off, obviously."
Although Sikura is somewhat of a late bloomer, physically speaking, three years in a college hockey environment have helped him get stronger, and in turn he has unlocked new parts of his game while continuing to be a top-notch playmaker. He was drafted as a center, but has the speed and vision to stick at wing, where he's played for the majority of his collegiate career.
"It's going to depend on who the other guys are around him," Plante explained. "It's great that he can play both, but I think he's been more comfortable playing the wing because he's done that the most. Sometimes it pays off to have bigger, stronger guys down the middle, but it's not to say he can't do that."
Whether he'll turn pro this summer or return to Northeastern for his senior campaign remains to be seen, but the growth that Sikura has shown over the last three seasons makes him one of the most improved and intriguing prospects in the system.