Drew LeBlanc’s year just keeps getting better.
On Wednesday, the Chicago Blackhawks — who signed LeBlanc on the same day he won the Hobey Baker — announced he’d be making his NHL debut against Edmonton tonight.
The news had to come as a surprise to the 23-year-old St. Cloud State product.
Last week, he told the Chicago Sun-Times he didn’t expect to suit up for the ‘Hawks this season, having only joined the club one day after his collegiate career ended (with a Frozen Four semifinal loss to Quinnipiac.)
“No,” LeBlanc replied when asked if he expected to see any playing time. “I’m just here to work hard, have fun, take it all in, learn what it’s like to be a professional and get as many pointers as possible.”
He’s going to get a lot more than that.
According to Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune, LeBlanc will center Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp against the Oilers, which is a pretty good way to kick off your professional career.
The move to insert LeBlanc makes sense on a number of fronts.
One, the ‘Hawks have little to play for with just three games left in the season — they’ve already clinched first overall in the Western Conference and winning the Presidents’ Trophy is a formality at this point (a victory of any kind tonight will clinch it.)
The move also makes sense due to LeBlanc’s playing status being in limbo.
He was ineligible to join AHL Rockford because he signed after the trade deadline (Rockford’s season is now over), which also made him ineligible for the Stanley Cup playoffs.