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Blackhawks Prospects

Red, White, and Boom: 4 Blackhawks Make Prelim WJC Roster

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It’s not shocking that four Blackhawks are on US Hockey’s preliminary roster for the 2024 World Junior Championships.

But what will likely raise a few eyebrows is just how good some of them have been so far.

Gavin Hayes leads the crew of American Blackhawks prospects, recording 18 goals and 35 points so far with the Flint Firebirds. Hayes is on pace for 50 goals this season, a nine-game jump from last season. As confident as I was with Kevin Korchinski making the Blackhawks, I’m even moreso with Hayes being a top six forward for the Stars and Stripes in the World Juniors.

Frank Nazar has also been impressive, potting eight goals and adding 10 more assists at a point-per-game rate. Oliver Moore and Sam Rinzel, both University of Minnesota teammates, have held their own with 11 points (2-9) and 10 points (1-9) respectively.

There is a very high likelihood that all four find their way onto international ice in a few weeks. 29 players will be fighting for 25 spots–and the Hawks prospects certainly could be on the final list.

Another Gauge as to Where the Blackhawks Prospects Sit

One of the toughest aspects of a rebuild is the waiting game, which exists both at the NHL level and also with the prospects. It’s not going to be a linear path and it certainly won’t be what everyone expects it to be.

The World Juniors in years past has been one of those mid-year events that serves as another clue as to where prospects are playing. Colton Dach, until his injury last season during the tournament, was turning heads. He’s continued since returning.

Connor Bedard went on a whole new level of dominance, showing exactly who he was. Kevin Korchinski was also impressive, sending hints that maybe he would be ready for the big time in the fall.

He was.

Now, Hayes, Nazar, Moore, and Rinzel not only have to make the final cuts, but if they do, show a chance on the international stage that will convince the Blackhawks that indeed, they’re a step closer.

Of the four, Hayes appears as the one who has the inside track to a faster appearance in Chicago. But of course, hockey seasons are long, winding, and suprising.

What won’t be surprising is if all four make the roster.

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