There have been a number of Chicago Blackhawks prospects who have begun to not only live up to their top billing, but are making compelling cases to be in Chicago as soon as next season.
The Blackhawks are trending toward a roster next season that might see an infusion of young talent in a similar fashion as it has this year. Potentially, they might even get a few more than the pair of Kevin Korchinski and Connor Bedard.
As the home stretch begins on the hockey season, a look at six prospects (in no particular order) who could possibly be in Chicago next season.
Six Blackhawks Prospects Who Could Be in Chicago Next Season
1) Frank Nazar
I think he’s the best bet, his numbers consistent all season long and his style of play one that would immediately benefit the Blackhawks and work as a straight jump from college onto the NHL roster. In 26 games, he has 33 points (13-20) which includes an assist in the second game of a sweep of Ohio State this weekend. Like Korchinski in Seattle last season, Nazar appears to be ready to take the next step of his career and with a strong showing in the Big Ten Tournament as well as the NCAA tournament, Nazar is likely getting his entry-level deal and getting his first big chance in Chicago.
2) Ethan Del Mastro
The AHL All-Star representative for the Rockford IceHogs continues his upward movement that mirrors his trend in juniors. Having a strong season in his AHL rookie season and also logging big minutes on the top pairing seems to foreshadow a future in Chicago as early as next season. Del Mastro has the potential to not only be a top four defenseman with the Blackhawks, but also a top two. More impressive is that both he and Vlasic were taken outside the first round, and with Korchinski, would be half of the blue line presence.
All under the age of 23.
3) Colton Dach
Before the concussion that sent him into protocol and eventually shelved him for a bit, Dach’s numbers were right in line with what was expected. It can be argued that Dach also was a real threat to push his way onto the roster back in October had he not been injured. Once he was active, Dach wasted no time showing the feistiness and offensive skill that entertained those thoughts in the preseason during his 23 games with Rockford this season.
Don’t be surprised to see Dach’s name on the lineup card in October next season if indeed he his healthy.
4) Gavin Hayes
Since his trade to the Soo Greyhounds, Hayes has scored at a goal-per-game clip and only been off the scoresheet once. In those nine games, he’s put up 17 points and will be on a team that could go very deep into the OHL playoffs. This would be perfect path for Hayes to showcase what he can do in the postseason with a team positioned to have success. It could be similar to what Korchinski had with Seattle last season–tying a bow onto what has been a tremendous junior career and perfect preface to what could be a great pro career.
Gavin Hayes' game-winner on repeat 🔂
— Ontario Hockey League (@OHLHockey) February 1, 2024
5) Landon Slaggert
It’s not to say they’ll all make it and Nazar still leads the pack but they all have different reasons for appearing in Chicago. Slaggert has put up career highs in goals with Notre Dame this season and according to Ben Pope at the Chicago Sun Times, plans on signing with the Blackhawks once his senior season is through. Developmentally, he could slate in a similar fashion as an Alex Vlasic, signing a deal, playing a few games in Chicago this season and then getting a long look next season.
6) Oliver Moore
Moore has been on an absolute tear since returning from the World Junior Championships, putting up the numbers many were expecting to see at the beginning of the season. Since returning from the World Junior tournament, he added another goal and assist , giving him 15 points in his last 10 games. Suddenly, it sure looks like maybe Moore has played his way into an entry-level deal and potentially a crack to play in Chicago next year. The only thing that keeps Moore in Minnesota an extra year is if the Blackhawks feel he needs another year of development. Should Minnesota again go far in the NCAA tournament and he plays a prominent role in it, expect that entry-level deal.