3 Blackhawks Among Pronman’s Top 50 Prospects

Corey Pronman, who used to handle prospect evaluation among other things at ESPN, moved to The Athletic (with half of the rest of the respected sports writers in the world) earlier this year.

On Tuesday, he released his periodically updated top 50 prospects in the NHL.

Here’s where the Blackhawks’ prospects fell on his list:

36. Henri Jokiharju, D, Chicago
Age: 18 | Height: 6-foot | Weight: 181 pounds
Drafted: First round, 29th overall in 2017
2017-18 team: Portland Winterhawks (WHL)

Jokiharju has been one of the top defensemen in the WHL this season and had a quality world junior tournament. He’s a smooth player. He won’t stand out with a flashy rush, but he makes a lot of quality plays all over the ice and can QB a power play.  Jokiharju’s skating stands out when you watch him due to how fluid a skater he is and how he can transition the play with his feet. He has excellent vision and makes a lot of high-level passes. He has some skill, but I don’t see him as a player who relies on his hands. Defensively he’s solid for his age, but he needs to get stronger and more confident checking before he reaches the NHL.

40. Ian Mitchell, D, Chicago
Age: 18 | Height: 5-foot-11 | Weight: 174 pounds
Drafted: Second round, 57th overall in 2017
2017-18 team: Denver (NCAA)

Mitchell was a player who intrigued me last season as a draft-eligible player at various events, but this season he’s firmly established in my mind that he’s a top prospect. He’s been the top defenseman on one of the best college teams in the country as an 18-year-old. He brings a lot of components to the table in terms of his skating and skill, but his IQ stands out the most to me. Mitchell is very calm moving the puck and controls things well on the PP. He isn’t offense-only, as he plays tough minutes and kills penalties in Denver, and despite being small, he defends OK.

42. Dylan Sikura, LW, Chicago
Age: 22 | Height: 5-foot-11 | Weight: 174 pounds
Drafted: Sixth round, 178th overall in 2014
2017-18 team: Northeastern (NCAA)

I normally would hesitate hard on pumping the tires on a 22-year-old college player whose major statistical seasons came after he turned 20, but Sikura is a player I’ve paid very close attention to in the last year. I’m not sure how high-end his offense will be in the NHL, but I do see a skilled player with at least the potential to be a top-six forward. He’s a good skater with impressive hands and has good offensive instincts, too. He drives play for Northeastern and, as of this writing, leads college hockey in points and shots per game. He’s not overly physical and not great defensively, but I see a well-rounded offensive threat who could score as a NHLer as soon as this spring.

The Blackhawks did not have anyone else mentioned among his top five goalies or honorable mentions.

 

 

8 thoughts on “3 Blackhawks Among Pronman’s Top 50 Prospects

  1. In the NHL and most sports you go for the top 5 guy. Like the Cubs did, the chance to get a Kris Bryant, or a Patrick Kane, is way more valuable than having excellent guys around them. Superstars are just harder to come by.

    Having said that, 3 top 50 prospects is a good coup for the Hawks. There are 31 teams in the league, so even having 2 would be theoretically above average. The fact that two of the defensemen they took from the last draft are playing so well so soon is a great sign. Especially for a team that is transitioning their blue line from Keith/Seabrook/Hammer to now the next generation.

    Only they need to sort out over the next couple years who among Rutta, Forsling, Osterle, and these new guys will slot where in the lineup. Do they have a number one guy? Do they have a number two guy? Their collective play will answer those questions and then they can take it from there as far as filling in what they need. But these early results on the two young defensemen are very positive developments for the near future.

    Sikura, we have known about for the last couple seasons. For a 6th round pick he has come around really nicely, and he will add to the Hawks’ stable of young, cheap, fast, skilled, small, non-physical forwards. Gives them more options for mixing and matching the top 3 lines for sure. But it is how he develops after he makes the jump to the NHL (that is the hardest transition) that will determine how good he will become. Be patient with him, people forget how one dimensional Kane was early in his career. Now he plays all over the ice and wins board battles.

  2. It’s a tough call hereismike-most prospects don’t work (some of my background is in baseball scouting/drafting) out- so having three you might get one that pans out and makes it on average, and if you get one of the three to really contribute your lucky.
    In most sports the top few picks have the real stars and then you are really hoping and the 3rd/4th rounder might just be a key piece and then the late first rounder plays a few games for a couple of years and is done.

    Still like Oesterle and Kempny, with fingers crossed on Forsling. I know Kempny makes some errors in judgement but you can’t teach those offensive skills and instincts (and check it out he is plus 12, to lead the team)

  3. Noonan Kempny may very well be regular defenseman next year but I doubt its in Chicago. Him and Franson and quite likely Jurco too will be shopped to try and get a couple more pucks in the draft as Blackhawks have only a few this year. Even if not moved I can’t that believe they would see resigning in their future unless a major swing from how this year played out so far.

  4. I can’t imagine anything that would make Kempny re-sign with the Hawks as he is a UFA after this season. They way teams overpay for dmen at the trade deadline should mean that he can fetch a 2nd at least. (remember 2 2nd round picks for a 40 yr old Timonen? Or a 3rd for an overhill Oduya? We aren’t the only team that has paid those inflated prices either)

    Someone will see him as an asset they can put to good use if he can’t get the opportunity he wants here.

  5. I watched Jokiharju closely at WJC and I think he projects to bring a decent second pairing guy. Mitchell will need to bulk up. Who knows. Both of them have a bit of Rafalski to their games.

    I guess Soderlund is not on this guy’s radar. He might just make the most impact of all our yutes.

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