More league-wide sites are releasing their late-summer organizational rankings, and the Chicago Blackhawks are impressing a lot of people.
Here’s a look at what some major sites have said about the Hawks’ organizational depth.
What you’ll see below is three different rankings from major websites, as well as the draft grade from ESPN. While the grades aren’t identical, all three sites agree that the Blackhawks have emerged as one of the deeper prospect groups in the NHL; Hockey’s Future hasn’t released a new set of organizational rankings since before the Draft.
We also provided each site’s rankings for the rest of the Central Division.
ESPN.com (Aug. 11) – ranked 4th overall
“The Blackhawks saw Nick Leddy (16th overall, 2009; acquired from the Wild) make the jump to the NHL roster last season and he may soon be joined by Mark McNeill (18th overall, 2011), who has size, skill and a solid head for the game. He’s a scorer who plays both ends of the rink in a responsible fashion. They had to sell off most of their cap-strapped Cup-winning team, but adding picks year after year is starting to pay off for the Blackhawks.”
Detroit – 5
St. Louis – 8
Columbus - 18
Nashville – 26
ESPN.com Draft Grade: A (June 26)
“There’s a lot to like in the further reloading of the Blackhawks. Mark McNeill offers toughness and enough skill; Phillip Danault’s got savvy and hockey sense. In the second round it’s either-or with a couple of sliding prospects who are late-birthday alumni of the U.S. National Team Development Program. Both Adam Clendening and Brandon Saad played their best hockey on championship teams in Ann Arbor and then struggled at BU and Saginaw, respectively. If one of the two lands, it’s a win.
Sonier’s prime picks: McNeill and Danault both have good chances to play and if Saad finds his game he could surpass both of them. Chicago drafted smart players who, given their hockey sense, have an improved chance to play.”
Hockey Prospectus (July 8) – ranked 5th overall
“The Blackhawks had an elite level of depth prior to the 2011 draft, and then they went on and had one of the best hauls of any team. Marcus Kruger has really emerged into a top-end prospect, Jeremy Morin took a notable step forward despite injuries, and Brandon Pirri did fine despite being very young for the AHL. Beyond those names, the Hawks have a large amount of players with pro prospects in their system. Losing a prospect like Ivan Vishnevskiy to Russia would usually hurt, but it barely caused a blip in this system’s depth.”
Detroit – 1
Nashville – 3
Columbus – 12
St. Louis – 21
Hockey’s Future (May 31) – ranked 11th overall
“Strengths: Several years of smart drafting has led to Chicago having incredible depth at both forward and defense. The Hawks benefited from forwards Ben Smith and Marcus Kruger in the playoffs this year but the most impressive performance was turned in by rookie blueliner Nick Leddy who played with poise beyond his years. Big wingers Jeremy Morin, Kyle Beach and Kevin Hayes all project as power forwards with the ability to both score and use their large bodies to play an effective grinding game. The defense is headlined by a number of offensively gifted defensemen with the aforementioned Leddy leading the way. Weaknesses: Although Corey Crawford is becoming a star in the NHL, Chicago’s depth between the pipes in terms of prospects continues to be the club’s biggest weakness. Top 5 Prospects: 1. Nick Leddy, D, 2. Dylan Olsen, D, 3. Jeremy Morin, LW, 4. Kyle Beach, LW, 5. Kevin Hayes, LW.”
Nashville – 3
Columbus – 4
St. Louis – 5
Detroit – 12