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Saturday, January 11, 2014
Prospect Nordstrom grabbing attention

By Scott Powers

ROSEMONT, Ill. -- Joakim Nordstrom may just be the biggest surprise among all of the Chicago Blackhawks' prospects this season.

Nordstrom first grabbed everyone’s attention by earning a spot on coach Joel Quenneville’s team out of training camp. Outside of Jeremy Morin and Brandon Pirri, Nordstrom’s 10 NHL games this season are the most among the organization’s forwards who have played for the Blackhawks and the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs this season.

Nordstrom wasn’t able to stick with the Blackhawks and has been reassigned twice to the IceHogs this season, but he hasn’t let it affect him. While a number of his IceHogs teammates are experiencing midseason slumps, Nordstrom has continued to push on. He’s recorded points in nine of the last 10 games and is third on the IceHogs with 21 points in 29 games.

“He just works,” IceHogs coach Ted Dent said before a recent game against the Chicago Wolves. “He doesn’t know any other way but to work every single night. He gets a lot of ice time. He’s on power play and penalty kill. He can play every forward position. He’s probably been our most consistent forward.”

There are a couple explanations for why the 21-year-old Nordstrom hasn’t endured the ups and downs like some of his teammates this season. For one, he’s played professional hockey prior to this season. He played 90 games in the Swedish Hockey League over the past two seasons.

“I think Nordstrom is a little more seasoned than our first-year guys,” Dent said. “He’s played pro before in Sweden. He’s a first-year pro in North America, but he’s not really a first-year player, and he’s really mature.”

Another reason is Nordstrom wasn’t crushed the Blackhawks sent him back down to the IceHogs. His ultimate goal is the NHL, but he agreed with their decision.

“I understand them and support them, too,” Nordstrom said. “I think it’s good for me in the long run to play more time here in Rockford.”

Dent believed Nordstrom’s two stints with the Blackhawks have been beneficial to him.

“I’m sure that helped him a lot,” Dent said. “He made that team out of training camp, came out of nowhere. I don’t think anybody thought that this summer that would happen. That’s a testament to his work ethic. The impression he left Joel and his coaching staff was obviously a really good one. They had him on their team for a while, and they had him back up there.”

To return to Chicago, Nordstrom said he’s been working on being more effective on the penalty kill and leading with his stick. He also didn’t make a big deal out of piling up points lately.

“I see myself as a two-player,” said Nordstrom, who was a third-round pick by the Blackhawks in 2010. “I try to be as strong defensively, first of all. That’s where I see my biggest strengths are. Of course, I want to join the rush and be in front of the net and find loose pucks.

“I just try to go out and be one of the hardest working guys on the team every night. Lately, I’ve been lucky enough to put up a few points. That’s just a bonus.”

Nordstrom wasn’t sure when his next chance with the Blackhawks would come, but he wasn’t worrying about it.

“I’m going to keep playing good here,” Nordstrom said. “This is where my focus is -- with Rockford. If I get the opportunity this year or next year, it doesn’t matter. I’m going to be ready for it.”