The Chicago Blackhawks announced their prospect camp roster Thursday afternoon, and among invitees was Japanese winger Yushiroh Hirano. Hirano, 19, spent the past season in Sweden’s top junior league, scoring 12 goals and 26 points in 37 games.
The Chicago Blackhawks announced their prospect camp roster Thursday, and among names like recently acquired Marko Dano and defenseman Stephen Johns was Japan’s Yushiroh Hirano, a winger who spent last season Tingsryds AIF in Sweden’s top junior league.
Hirano is one of the 57 invitees to the Blachawks’ camp and is expected to be there when the camp opens Sunday. The 19-year-old winger will be getting his first taste of NHL-level action and, after potting 12 goals and 26 points in 37 games with Tingsryds, there’s the possibility for him to open some eyes.
Hirano is also coming over to Blackhawks camp after a season in which he captained the Japanese entry in the World Junior Championships’ Division 1B, which included teams from Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Poland, France and Hungary, and tallied six goals and eight points in five games. He was named the top Japanese player at the tournament and led the tournament in goals.
It’s extremely unlikely Hirano lands a contract with the Blackhawks – even an AHL deal would be outstanding – but by simply getting to camp, Hirano has potential to help grow the sport in Japan.
In addition to Hirano in Chicago, the Columbus Blue Jackets have invited Ryo Hashimoto, who attend their 2014 camp, to this off-season’s prospect camp as a free agent invite. Like Hirano, however, it’s unlikely Hashimoto receives a contract.
Regardless of the likelihood either Hirano or Hashimoto receives a contract, it has been a big year for hockey in Asia. On top of the drafting of Androg Song, a Chinese national, and invites of Hirano and Hashimoto, 11-year-old Japanese sensation Iguchi Aito captured the imaginations of hockey fans everywhere with his talent level at such a young age. While it hasn’t happened yet, we may not be far from the NHL’s first legitimate Japanese star.
(Editor's note: A previous version of this story misidentified the birthplace of Islanders prospect Andong Song. We regret the error.)