On Thursday morning, ESPN NHL Draft and Prospect analyst Corey Pronman released his rankings of the top 50 prospects in the NHL. Two Blackhawks prospects made his list, but with one notable name not making the list.
One Hawks prospect is climbing the rankings quickly.
24. Ville Pokka, D (previous ranking: 41)
Current team: Rockford Ice Hogs (AHL) | 2014-15 stats: 31 GP 6 G 9 A
DOB: 6-3-94 | Draft: No. 34, 2012
Pokka has looked pretty impressive as a rookie AHL player being used in all situations, and is among Rockford’s leaders in shots on goal. He’s not a flashy player, with Chicago’s assistant GM Norm Maciver describing him as a “cerebral defenseman who doesn’t get into trouble,” but he also makes offensive plays by getting into the attack and moving the puck well. He just needs to bulk up and get used to the physical battles in tight space. He was the main piece Chicago acquired in the trade that sent Nick Leddy to the Islanders.
Another has made the jump into the top 50.
40. Nick Schmaltz, C (previous ranking: Honorable mention)
Current team: North Dakota (NCAA) | 2014-15 stats: 17 GP 3 G 13 A
DOB: 2-23-96 | Draft: No. 20, 2014
Schmaltz was incredibly tough to rank. There are so many reasons to doubt him: He has a fringe physical game, his defensive value is questionable, and he can be invisible for stretches. On the other hand, he’s so damn talented. His skating, puck skills, and vision all get top grades; he’s a player who can dazzle on the offensive end. Will he dazzle enough as a pro? That is the looming question.
Not on the list was Teuvo Teravainen. Why? Pronman notes in his intro that “prospects are considered ‘graduated’ if they have more than 25 games played this season in the NHL, 50 career NHL games, or are currently on an NHL roster.” I asked him where Teravainen may have fallen in his ranking on Twitter, and he responded.
— Corey Pronman (@coreypronman) January 15, 2015