The kudos keep rolling in for the likes of Frank Nazar, Oliver Moore, Sam Rinzel, and Gavin Hayes. The latter two ranked fourth and fifth respectively already in CHN’s Top 10, here’s a look what some are saying about Chicago Blackhawks prospects following the World Juniors Summer Showcase.
Blackhawks Prospects Making Noise In the Quiet Portion of the Offseason
FloHockey’s Chris Peters cobbled together a preliminary list of who might find themselves on the US World Juniors team in December.
Wouldn’t you know it–there’s a lot of representation from Chicago.
Rinzel, however, is where he has a more detailed writeup. From Peters:
Sam Rinzel is one of those guys that USA kind of needs, but I don’t know that he solidified anything for himself in camp. He’s the biggest defenseman, a graceful skater and he’s got some skill. But his puck management waned as the camp wore on and you wonder if he’s ready to take the step. I like the player and I think the opportunity is there for him to seize it, but he’s got to prove himself in the second half.
This might sound critical and it’s something I’ll go into more detail about it as Rinzel is on my rankings list, but on the lower end for much of the same reason that Peters has indicated. Beyond just puck management, there’s concern about his play on the defensive end but it’s hardly something to panic about. A season at Minnesota will help with tighten things a bit, giving Chicago’s brass a better idea of what they have.
Another Look At The Summer Showcase
The Daily Faceoff’s Steven Ellis had a write up of each his standouts, he included Moore and Nazar in depth and added Hayes as an honorable mention. From Ellis on Nazar:
All he did was produce around the net, looking like his old self from the USNTDP days. Nazar will have a chance to lead Michigan in a big way this year after Adam Fantilli’s departure, and there’s no question he’ll live up to the hype.
And about Moore:
There’s enough center depth to truly dominate the main world juniors, but you can’t keep Moore’s speed and energy off the roster. He’s versatile, smart and so dangerous with the puck on the breakaway.
I do think Hayes deserves more of a look, as his scoring touch and willingness to play hard hockey makes him blend in more than stand out. It’s blazing speed and slick moves that stand out but it’s the hard nosed and little things that others like Hayes do that often lead to those moments.
Not to take anything away, but it seems like Hayes is one who flies under the radar–which can absolutely work in Chicago’s favor, too.
What Does it All Mean?
Both Ellis and Peters are astute observers and interestingly, Ellis left Rinzel off his list of the top 10 NHL drafted players from the showcase. But similar to Hayes, Rinzel isn’t going to be flashy. He’s more of a steady workman–that smooth skating Peters noted and also a long reach that can do those little subtle things not always picked up on.
Moore and Nazar on the other hand are only ramping up the excitement surrounding them. As is Hayes.
It’s a limited viewing of what they can do, but things get more interesting when respective seasons get rolling and then the World Juniors are underway. So besides watching Connor Bedard, the WJC will be must watch hockey for Blackhawks fans looking to see what else those prospects will do against the world’s best.