After many of the Blackhawks’ top prospects travelled to Chicago for the annual prospect camp this past week, fans were able to get a look at what the future might hold at the United Center.
Here are a few observations.
Brandon Saad was the only player at the camp that appeared to be ready for the NHL. He finished his junior career with impressive regular and postseason numbers last year, and all indications are that he’s headed for the Blackhawks’ roster this fall. He did skate at center on the final scrimmage, but he’s a natural left wing.
Teuvo Teravainen showed offensive creativity that stood out on a daily basis. In an organization that has drafted bigger players throughout the last three drafts, his Patrick Kane-like body was among the smallest in the camp. But he showed flashes of being something special throughout the camp, and tied for the camp lead with four points (two goals, two assists) in the three scrimmages. At only 17, the future might be bright for him, but not at the United Center any time soon; a reasonable ETA might be 2014.
As you can see in the video, the organization continues to be very high on Adam Clendening. The fact that they mentioned his name, “NHL” and “this season” in the same breath adds further creedence to the school of thought that the Hawks are actively trying to move a defenseman on the NHL roster; there are eight defensemen battling for ice time already on the Blackhawks roster, so someone would have to leave for Clendening to get a shot. Is he ready? Not today. But he isn’t very far away, either. An appropriate ETA for him at the UC would be October 2013.
Mark McNeill had three assists in the three games and played both center and wing. The Hawks’ other first round pick from 2011, Phillip Danault, looked very comfortable and smart on the ice as well. Danault looks like an ideal third-line center in the future, which asks two questions: Does Danault wait for Bolland’s contract to expire to get a shot? and How does Marcus Kruger, whose game is similar to Danault’s, fit into the Hawks’ future?
Brandon Whitney, a seventh round pick this summer, allowed only one goal in 20 minutes of action during the camp. Unfortunately, his minutes were limited and he appeared in a walking boot at the end of the week for the photo of the 2012 Draft class. When he was on the ice, he looked good. But, again, he’s years away.
Some other Hawks’ prospects that were impressive included forwards Kevin Hayes, Vince Hinostroza and Terry Broadhurst, defensemen Sam Jardine, Klas Dahlbeck and Joe Gleason, and goaltender Mac Carruth.
There is a lot to like about the talent in the Hawks’ organization, and the future is certainly bright. Stan Bowman has added a lot of high-end talent to the organization’s depth in the last two drafts.
The depth that has been added means prospects that have performed well in Rockford will feel pressure to perform as well. Having a deeper pool of prospects to work with also opens opportunities for Bowman to include younger players in deals to make the team better.