ESPN Ranks Top Blackhawks Prospects

Last week, ESPN’s Corey Pronman wrote a couple significant pieces on NHL prospects. He listed the top ten players in each organziation, and then offered his top 120 overall prospects¬†heading into the 2016-17 NHL season.

Here’s Pronman’s top ten Blackhawks prospects:

1. Alex DeBrincat, RW
2. Gustav Forsling, D
3. Ville Pokka, D
4. Nick Schmaltz, C
5. Tyler Motte, LW
6. Vince Hinostroza, C
7. Ryan Hartman, RW
8. Artur Kayumov, LW
9. Lucas Carlsson, D
10. Chad Krys, D

The top four Blackhawks prospects were among the 120 players identified by Pronman.

47. Alex DeBrincat, RW

Alex DeBrincat bio

From Pronman: “The diminutive Alex DeBrincat has been one of the top scorers in the CHL the past two seasons. He’s a highly skilled winger who shows above-average to high-end speed, puck skills, vision and finishing skill. DeBrincat is constantly buzzing around the ice making all sorts of offensive plays. His elite hockey sense allows him to be in the right place and control the puck with confidence. In terms of the negatives, DeBrincat is very small, but he has a real tenacity to his game.”

66. Gustav Forsling, D

Gustav Forsling bio

From Pronman: “Forsling was one of the best teenagers in the SHL this past season and was very good at the WJC as well. He isn’t incredibly fast, but his mobility is above average, with quick footwork. Forsling is a very skilled and intelligent puck mover who quarterbacks a power play with the best of them. His body is lean, and he isn’t the best when it comes to winning battles on defense. That’s the area that needs the most improvement at this point.”

77. Ville Pokka, D

Ville Pokka

From Pronman: “One of the top defensemen in the AHL this past season, Pokka got an invite to the world championship for Finland (and subsequently the World Cup) where he was solid. He’s not the biggest or fastest player, but his great two-way hockey sense makes him a legit prospect. He moves the puck efficiently, he doesn’t hurt his team, and he’s capable defensively.”

85. Nick Schmaltz, F

Nick Schmaltz bio

From Pronman: “I still don’t know exactly what to make of Nick Schmaltz. There are times where I love watching him. He’s an elite passer who can make really difficult plays seem easy and dominate the puck. While he has improved his play away from the puck during his time at North Dakota, even showing the ability during under-20 international play to be an OK penalty killer, he sometimes shows the same old bad tendencies, such as not engaging his checks. He has played well, but you know that he could get to that higher level and simply hasn’t done it yet.”

Here’s some of Pronman’s analysis of the Hawks’ system:

Team Overview: The last few years, I’ve made mention of the Chicago system lacking a ton of high-end talent but being quite deep in solid talent. I look at the Chicago system and ponder who is trending up, and the answer is there hasn’t been a ton of guys who really shot up last season. The situation looks a lot different here than a few years ago, with a clear top echelon that includes the top four prospects in the system (Alex DeBrincat, Gustav Forsling, Ville Pokka¬†and Nick Schmaltz), some decent depth in their AHL ranks and then question marks after that.

Noteworthy prospect: Tyler Motte, LW

Motte was a top prospect when he was coming up during his 15- and 16-year-old seasons, then fell off a little, but really trended up this season as one of the best players in college hockey, skating for Michigan. He’s an above-average to high-end skater, with good puck skills, and plays with pace.

Tyler Motte bio

2016-17 impact: Ville Pokka is NHL-ready and should be in the conversation for a job out of camp. Hinostroza, Hartman and McNeill will all be pushing for ice time throughout the season, assuming McNeill clears waivers if sent down. Motte could be a sleeper after his strong showing at the World Championships. Some scouts seem to think Nick Schmaltz could be on the team, but I’m hesitant to believe he’s ready to make the jump.

A few other names of note from Pronman’s top 120:

  • The number one player on the list will be in the Central Division. Patrick Laine, selected second overall this summer by the Winnipeg Jets, came in ahead of Auston Matthews on this list.
  • Toronto had three of the top ten overall.
  • Rangers forward Jimmy Vesey came in at 82

14 thoughts on “ESPN Ranks Top Blackhawks Prospects

  1. DeBrincat??? I am listing all 9 of these guys ahead of D-Cat… ( and I haven’t seem the Russian or Carlsson play!!!!)

    Based on watching D-Cat live and Jrs.

    But really- Motte and Schmaltz are way better… Talent wise… Schmaltz is ready…
    can he handle the “Q”/both sides of the puck??? Secondly, can Schmaltz avoid the Big hit??? cuz he luvs to hold the puck/make plays ( a little too long??? or like 72/88 — we shall see)

    I think Mathias From- will leap over half of these guys too in next couple years

  2. very curious selections from my Pronman. Keep in mind he is from ESPN anything from Bristol hockey related is suspect at best.

  3. You watched DeBrincat live, and that makes you rank all of the players on the list ahead of him? Please share more of your scouting insight, other than you watched him live. I’m content with knowing there is an organization making good personnel decisions. Hawks core is aging, having a good summer of rest will help the older legs. Looking forward to see who will make an impact from this list. I’d rather see the D-men perform at a high NHL level than the forwards at this time.

  4. Debrincat is questionable only due to size-he belongs in the top three because of his skill level-saw him live perhaps 4 or 5 times in the last two years.
    It will be real interesting who of the three does the best and only time will tell.
    (Cat, Motte and Schmaltz)
    God I wish this kid was three inches taller-but then the Hawks wouldn’t have him.

  5. Bill- Re: Scouting D-Cat… I watched a few games of Recent WJC-20’s… D-Cat pretty invisible (Although he still has eligibility there)
    watched him at Hawk’s Prospect camp… for the most part- he wasn’t a factor…

    Schmaltz out performed him at both venues… BY A LOT!!!
    Schmaltz and Motte were much better (Motte at NHL/World Cup (preview) was gaining trust/ice time from coaches)…

    I am no Hockey scout… was pretty good athlete/like to think I can spot a talent when I see one… and love to compete/watch…
    I have been pretty good here last several years on “My scouting opinions- here”
    examples– when they were picked/and before they were Hawks
    Pirri- can’t skate,no motor– not a Hawk
    Saad- Mini Hossa
    Clendening- Terrible, poor skater, low IQ
    McNeill- Not consistent , does all OK, Nothing really well ( I will say he has improved the most- but probably- still not good enough- Hope I am wrong)
    Shaw- Battler, winner, Coaches player, overachiever
    Hino- has a chance to make Blackhawks
    Moose- great position (while in Rockford)
    Nordstrom- would make the Hawks out of camp– he did!!!

  6. STFU Wall, your so called “scouting” reports aren’t even fit to line the bottom of a bird cage. Every time they lost the last couple years you’d clamor for some kid in Rockford to be called up (remember the “Pokka, Pokka, Pokka” chants?)

    Then, when a kid invariably gets called up, you claim you “called it”. You embarrass yourself with your nonsense.

    How’s your new band doing? You know, “Dumb As A Brick Wall & The Exclamation Points” …

  7. Please go away-Dummy with a hint of RTF.

    Wall the other two are a couple of years older. You may be right but I think the Cat has some Theo Fleury’s I’m gonna prove you wrong about my size DNA.

  8. I ‘think’ these lists are for longterm who is top/better prospect. Regardless these guys are going to get better each yr/upside. Another wave of good young FWs.

  9. Debris looks like actor Dicaprio”s nephew. 5’7 or 6’7, you can’t teach speed or God given ability to score goals.

  10. Reading these comments I think the moral of the story is for Tab not to post on a holiday. Alcohol appears to be involved. It might keep morale up around here as well. See what I did there?

    On to Debrincat. He’s put up some gaudy numbers. He has more career goals for the Otters than Connor McDavid in like 50 fewer games. They’re obviously not the same type of player. But still that’s impressive. He probably won’t have Strome to help him put up numbers this year so he’ll have to do it on his own more or less. His size doesn’t scare me. The overall team size is an issue. But help is on the way in that department.

  11. “Brick Wall”- well, if you can only pick out “1 miss/Pokka” out of all of my “scouting reports”… The Cubs should fire Theo and Hire Me!!!

    For the record- I am pretty sure – I liked Johns more than Pokka and said he was “More ready”… said Pokka gets his shot thru at point, but isn’t the fastest skater, very thick upper body… My Chants of “Pokka” and “Pokka-party” are more about Pokka-ing fun at the name… than Pokka being the next Bobby Orr… with that said- I absolutely LOVE Pokka… when you compare him to Clendening- who I said was a complete bum- more than once here!

    Lastly- Pokka isn’t a complete miss- yet… Pokka- probably sticks (for some team in NHL)- imo

  12. Pronman is very high on Lucas Carlsson. He had him as an early 3rd rounder in his draft report and his top 70.

    I tweeted him that observation and he replied that his positive review/thoughts of Carlsson are well documented.

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