The 2018-19 installment of Keeping Up with the Pups began with potential late-round gem Ivan Chekhovich, who’s off to a hot start in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. This week, it’s another late-round pick who’s off to a hot start in Joachim Blichfeld who’s currently the Western Hockey League’s leading scorer.
It feels as though the San Jose Sharks are stumbling upon potential late-bloomers. Chekhovich could have a breakout year in the QMJHL, Antti Suomela is looking comfortable transitioning to the North American style of play and Blichfeld is off to a hot start in his junior season with the Portland Winterhawks.
Since being drafted by the Sharks in 2016, Blichfeld has recorded 50-plus points over the past two seasons with the Winterhawks which is solid production from a seventh-round selection. Blichfeld will show flashes of offensive capabilities, but this year is looking like it could be a breakout season for the 20-year-old.
In eight games this season for the Winterhawks, Blichfeld has 8 goals and 14 assists, combined for 22 points. After averaging nearly a point per game over the past two years, the Dane has seen his average spike up, averaging 2.75 points per game this season — in an admittedly small sample size so far.
Putting up nearly three points a night, it’s no surprise he leads the scoring race in the WHL and currently has a cushion on the next two players in the scoring race as his teammate Cody Glass and Brett Leason of the Prince Albert Raiders both have 17 points.
Along with being in the scoring race, Blichfeld will look to lead the WHL in goals, where his 8 goals are tied with Leif Mattson of the Kelowna Rockets. Finally, Blichfeld is also a co-leader when it comes to assists with 14, so if he continues with this production, he could end up leading the WHL in all these categories by the end of the season.
Despite all of this, Blichfeld has yet to win a player of the week award in the early part of the season even with leading or being tied for the lead in all scoring categories, but with the Winterhawks being one of the top teams in the Western Conference, expect Blichfeld to get some recognition for his production, eventually.
With this being his final year in junior, Blichfeld will look to go out in a blaze of glory when it comes to individual accolades and team accomplishments. Blichfeld will be at the forefront of any success the Winterhawks have this season, as they will have the fend off the Spokane Chiefs and Seattle Thunderbirds for the U.S. Division.
Blichfeld has come out of the gate hot, so it’s another late-round prospect to keep an eye on through the hockey season to see how his season goes.