I will not lie in saying that I waited until August to rank Chicago Blackhawks prospects because it gives me something to write and defend meticulously in the dog days of the hockey offseason.
I’ll also readily admit it’s tough trying to figure out where everyone slots in.
It’s can be agonizing for someone analyzing but it’s a boon for those drafting and those cheering on their Blackhawks. A farm system pretty bare just three seasons ago, it’s been restocked, and bolstered.
In short, it’s going to be a great problem to have in a couple seasons.
Blackhawks Blueline Oozing with Talent
This is where it’ll open debate and certainly wonder about whether this guy or that one should be ranked higher. Already, with both Connor Bedard and Lukas Reichel slotting in at one and two respectively in CHN’s rankings, they’ll be off the list and fully entrenched as full time players with the big club starting this season and beyond.
But from there, it’s a great guess as to who will go where and why. The Blackhawks blue line prospects are plentiful, starting with Kevin Korchinski, Nolan Allan, or Sam Rinzel. Ethan Del Mastro had a splendid year with Mississauga and Sarnia, and could be a stud in the making.
But there’s also Alex Vlasic, Wyatt Kaiser, and Isaak Phillips, all of whom had time last season in Chicago. It’s jammed up and there will be a variety of ways things will eventually go:
- They stick and stay in Chicago
- They shuffle between Rockford and Chicago as depth defensemen
- They’re traded or allowed to walk
That depth allowed for Alec Regula and Ian Mitchell to be expendable, with the latter never really living up to his billing. Which brings in the next point.
They Won’t All Make It
There an old saying, joke, or what have you uttered in a variety of ways that stipulates fanbases always overvalue their own prospects. For every Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews, there’s a Jack Skille. That’s not to besmirch Skille, it just shows that for how high he was taken, it never really worked out as so many thought it would.
Beyond the blueline, the Blackhawks forwards corps is something to behold. Fans are salivating–and rightly so–at what Frank Nazar and Oliver Moore are doing as the World Juniors Summer Showcase. At times, it even looks like they’re having a speed skating competition with onlookers unable to even dream of catching them. Tonight, they’ll face off against one another, seeing how that speed will work when countered by the other.
— Tab Bamford (@The1Tab) August 3, 2023
But that showcase isn’t exactly the full view and it won’t be until the Big 10 season opens up that the true value of Moore, Nazar and Rinzel will be accurately gauged. My prediction, which may be a spoiler alert, will be entry-level deals at the close of the college season.
But there’s the case of Gavin Hayes, a right-hand shot with a quick release and the propensity to somehow be in the right place at the right time. Will it transfer to Rockford or Chicago? 40 goals with Flint is nothing to sneeze at. Hayes reminds of another Blackhawks sniper–Patrick Sharp–and that would be something to see the second-coming of Sharp in Chicago.
How about Colton Dach? His game only got stronger as he progressed in the Seattle Thunderbirds postseason.
What about goalies? Drew Commesso is certainly a talent but netminders are often at the mercy of more factors than their counterparts skating in front of them. Adam Gajan is intriguing, but still needs to add a little more to his resume to truly crack that top ten list.
I’m only two players in out of the ten CHN is ranking, which doesn’t include honorable mentions. It sure as heck will come with a defense for every spot that they’re in.
But the one certainty is that Chicago’s pipeline is absolutely loaded.