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Looking at Nick Lardis' time at Chicago Blackhawks training camp

Steven Ellis/Daily Faceoff
Steven Ellis/Daily Faceoff

It’s one thing to get drafted by an NHL team, it’s another thing to become a highly touted prospect within an NHL organization.

That is now Nick Lardis’ next mission in his goal of possibly becoming an NHL player.

Once Lardis was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the third round this summer, the first step of his NHL journey had been completed.

Now he begins the next steps which will include trying to impress the Blackhawks organization.

Once he was drafted, Lardis was invited to the Blackhawks rookie development camp.

At camp, he met all of the Blackhawks staff and their top rookies including top prospect Connor Bedard as they competed with and against each other in many different off-ice activities.

The camp lasted almost an entire week, once it concluded, Lardis began his off-season summer training regiments with skating coach Josh Wrobel as he prepared for his first-ever NHL training camp in September.

Once September arrived, Lardis began rookie camp with the Blackhawks and was finally able to put on an NHL jersey and play with his future teammates.

"It was awesome," said Lardis on the subject of rookie camp. 

"It was my first time putting on the Blackhawks jersey…the pace and tempo were very high in those games and I got to play against and with some very good players."

The rookie camp lasted only two games, in those two games, Lardis and the Blackhawks played against the prospects from the Minnesota Wild and the St. Louis Blues.

In game one against the Blues prospects, Lardis played on the left wing with Connor Bedard as his center and former 2021 draft pick Colton Dach on the right wing.

Lardis was unable to have a significant impact but Bedard and Dach combined for four goals with Bedard getting a hat trick in a 5-0 Blackhawks win.

In game two against the Wild, Lardis was given a new center with 2023 second-round pick Martin Misiak slotting into the middle of him and Colton Dach.

Lardis had a much better game in his second appearance as he scored the first goal of the game just 81 seconds into the game for his first goal of the rookie camp but unfortunately, the Blackhawks fell 7-4 to Minnesota.

Lardis reflected on his performance: "I thought I played really well in the rookie tournament, I had a couple of points and I was using my speed… That was the biggest thing for me, I wanted to show my speed and my IQ on the ice."

Once rookie camp ended, Lardis was invited to Blackhawks training camp in preparation for the NHL’s pre-season.

With Nick being invited to training camp, he was able to meet and play with players that he has watched since he was a kid.

Players like Stanley Cup Champion Correy Perry, veteran forward Nick Foligno and former first overall pick from 2010 Taylor Hall.

"They’re great guys." said Lardis "Not just on the ice but off of it…it was awesome to learn from them."

Lardis was lucky enough to play one pre-season game with the Blackhawks in an overtime win against the St. Louis Blues.

Lardis noticed an instant change between what it's like to play in the NHL versus the OHL.

"Everyone knows where to be on the ice, everyone has a very good IQ, It’s tough to play in those games."

Another obvious difference is the crowd, OHL arenas usually average around 5,000-7,000 fans whereas NHL arenas are near 20,000. 

Lardis said that in his pre-season game, he got a breakaway and was able to feel the roar of the crowd and he felt it was a "pretty cool" feeling compared to the crowd noise in the OHL.

After his one game, Lardis was sent back to Brantford of the OHL and will continue to develop with the Bulldogs franchise.

Lardis will look to be a key contributor with the Bulldogs and hopes to get signed to an NHL contract by the end of the season.