Chicago Blackhawks: Why Kyle Beach Has to Step Up in 2012/13

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Chicago Blackhawks: Why Kyle Beach Has to Step Up in 2012/13
Photo courtesy of ESPN

On June 20, 2008, former Blackhawks G.M. Dale Tallon rolled the dice on Kyle Beach, a player considered to be of high skill and physicality, but also known to have some character issues.

Despite the known risk that saw this kid fall from what was projected to be a top-five pick by some, Chicago used the 11th overall pick to select Beach from the WHL's Everett Silvertips. Although he racked up a whopping 222 penalty minutes in the season leading up to that draft he also posted a point per game, good for third on the team behind a pair of 2007 draftees.

On paper, the move seemed solid. Hoping that Beach would be able to get his head in order, the Hawks grabbed the best available player on the board, and saw him joining the team after his WHL career was over and maybe a season down in Rockford.

His final season in the WHL yielded promising results, with Beach not losing his nasty edge (186 PIM), and putting up some amazing offensive numbers: 68 games played, 52 goals, 34 assists.

During this time, Beach's reputation as a non-ideal player grew.

However, the top level talent was still there, and Beach saw limited action for the AHL's Rockford IceHogs at the conclusion of his 2008-09 and 09-10 WHL campaigns.

2010-11 marked the full-fledged entry of Beach into the Blackhawks system, as he skated his first full campaign in the system. The results were not what one would hope of an 11th overall pick. Beach skated in 71 games and only managed to put up 16 goals, 20 assists and racked up 163 penalty minutes.

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2011-12 marked a major campaign for Beach. While nothing was ever made official, Beach was surely in a make-or-break season with the Hawks. A strong season would re-establish his place as a true Hawk prospect. Another season of reckless penalties would see him go the way of former reckless winger Akim Aliu, becoming another GM and coaching staff's headache.

Neither happened. In a November fight, Beach sustained a shoulder injury that was initially thought to have ended his season.

Something had clicked for Beach. To that point in the season, his production was up, and his play was smarter. Never known as much of a gym rat, Beach worked extremely hard on his rehab and was able to return early. He was able to make it into 19 games in total, notching five goals, five assists and 30 penalty minutes.

Enter this off-season. To date, the Blackhawks haven't been able to find a power forward to fit into the top six since being forced to trade Andrew Ladd. Guys like Bryan Bickell and Andrew Brunette tried to no avail. Viktor Stalberg tried being a power forward, but he still hasn't figured out how to use his large frame.

With Marian Hossa possibly out for a good part of the season due to a massive hit from Phoenix's Raffi Torres, there might just be a spot for Beach on the team out of camp. Due to injuries, Brandon Saad and Brandon Pirri got their chances last season.

Even if Beach gets sent back down to Rockford, it's still a big year for him. Now 22, Beach will have to have major production in Rockford to get back into the Hawks' good graces.

In theory, he fits a major hole for the Hawks. A true left winger with a right handed shot and physicality, he has the potential to add an aspect Chicago has been lacking for the last two seasons. He also has the potential to be a stain on Dale Tallon's reputation.

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