On Friday morning Scott Wheeler at The Athletic published his rankings of the top 50 under-23 drafted NHL prospects. It’s key to note the “under-23” part because, as Wheeler points out in his intro, this keeps Dylan Sikura from being ranked (he was born in June).
Two Blackhawks blue line prospects made the top 50 overall and a third was among the honorable mentions. Who made it?
20. Adam Boqvist
“Speaking of utility, right-handed power play quarterbacks! Boqvist might be that kind of player’s biggest archetype. There’s a chance this is one of the rankings that doesn’t look good a few years from now if Boqvist bottoms out and never figures out his defensive game. Still, he’s just so talented as a handler, skater, and particularly as a shooter, that I can’t ignore him. His trajectory will be fascinating to track, because he’s going to put up huge points offensively as a rookie with the London Knights next season and it will be on Dale Hunter and his staff to sort out his defensive warts. If Boqvist can become even a competent defender in his own zone and learn to engage more in puck battles, he’s got the chance to be special. He’s going to make a lot of teams look silly in the OHL next season.”
37. Henri Jokiharju
“Hockey is about making plays. I like players who make a lot of plays. And Jokiharju makes a lot of plays. That about sums it up. Sometimes it’s that simple. The way he manages the puck, controls it in traffic, and creates entries are all enough to make him one of junior hockey’s better players. He just gets it. Few young players in the world do as good a job creating passing lanes and putting the puck in dangerous, unsuspecting areas of the ice like Jokiharju. I’m a big fan. He’s going to be really good and finished fifth among WHL defencemen in points per game and second in assists for a reason. He also defends well within a system, plays a tight gap, and picks his spots to activate.”
Defenseman Ian Mitchell was among the honorable mentions.