College Free Agents On The Blackhawks Radar?

Over the past few years, the Blackhawks have been players for college free agents. Chicago has signed a handful of college free agents including Drew LeBlanc, Matt Carey, Kyle Baun and Trevor van Riemsdyk. Last summer the Hawks made a serious play to sign Jimmy Vesey as well.

So as college seasons begin to wind down, who could be the names linked to Chicago as free agents this spring?

Zach Aston-Reese, forward, Northeastern
6-0, 204
DOB: Aug. 10, 1994
Shoots: right
2016-17: 36 games, 30 goals, 32 assists, 62 points

Aston-Reese is having a terrific senior season at Northeastern, where he’s a teammate of Blackhawks draft picks Dylan Sikura and Ryan Shea. He’s had an incredibly productive season and has good size. Aston-Reese leads the country with 30 goals and is tied for the national lead with four short-handed goals as well.

Nick Schilkey, forward, Ohio State
5-10, 173
DOB: May 12, 1994
Shoots: right
2016-17: 30 games, 26 goals, 14 assists, 40 points, 15 PPG

Schilkey has scored double-digit goals all four years at Ohio State, and is having his more productive season as a senior. Before Ohio State, Schilkey spent two seasons with the Green Bay Gamblers in the USHL, where he was a teammate of Nick Schmaltz. One of the Buckeyes’ netminders, Matt Tomkins, was drafted by Chicago in the seventh round in 2012. Schilkey has been Ohio State’s captain for two year.

Joel Messner, defenseman, Omaha
6-2, 215
DOB: March 11, 2994
Shoots: right
2016-17: 33 games, 2 goals, 6 assists, 8 points, 76 blocked shots

Messner also has two current teammates who were drafted by the Blackhawks, Fredrik Olofsson and Luc Snuggerud. Messner is a top shot blocker who has a short-handed goal on his resume this year as well.

Mike Vecchione, center, Union
5-10, 195
DOB: Feb. 25, 1993
Shoots: right
2017-17: 34 games, 26 goals, 32 assists, 58 points, 26 blocked shots, 61.5% faceoff

Vecchione is among the national leaders in points, game-winning goals (six) and short-handed goals (four). He has been the captain at Union for two seasons.

12 thoughts on “College Free Agents On The Blackhawks Radar?

  1. we are going to need some goalies and big, strong, fast, puck-handling defencemen for the near future!!


    Another player to watch out for is Josh Healey. The linked hit got him a 2 game suspension. 45 points over his last 64 games. Not that big but plays with an edge.

    From TSN-

    “Old school – keep your head up when he’s on the ice,” one NHL executive said of the 22-year-old from Edmonton who has generated interest from almost every NHL club.

    “Hits too hard for college hockey,” another NHL scout said. “His game will be better suited to pro.”

    Healey attended the 2016 summer development camps of both the Calgary Flames and Nashville Predators. In 2015, he attended the Edmonton Oilers’ summer development camp. Those clubs are among the large group of NHL teams that will be competing to sign Healey once OSU’s season is over.

    Scouts say he’s a decent first-pass defenceman but his forte is open-ice hitting and playing a hard, physical game. He projects as a depth or perhaps third-pairing type defenceman. He’s not a sure bet to play in the NHL, but certainly worth a shot.”

  3. You prob already heard Shalunov cannot join Blackhawks because his team there wont release his contract. This is better for us elc wise (Ernie is that right).

    We could get Hayden and Shalunov around the same time. Thats 2 big FW that can skate. Were going to get better each yr for the coming yrs as these young guys all around game gets better. Beauty.

  4. 56 16 58 74 58

    As mentioned earlier d-man Darren Raddysh will be in high demand-
    6’1 200lb-strong young man
    Lots of confidence transitioning to offense and good in his own end. +58
    (Skating has improved)
    Born in ’96

  5. If I were a sought after college F.A. I would look to sign with Vegas, that’s where the most opportunity’s will be.

  6. Shalunov because of age can only sign a 1 year ELC. If he had signed this year and then you’re in the same boat over the summer. He’d still be an RFA because of age. So it’s really immaterial other than you could see if he can play. The agent always said it was less than 10% chance he signs this year. It sounds like Sibir wants to get assets for their RFA and if he signs with the Hawks they’re not gonna get much.

    Powers brings up a good point in that with the lack of a transfer agreement Shalunov could actually bolt. But the KHL guys get really pissy and hold grudges.He has aspirations of playing for the Russian Olympic team and he doesn’t want to ruin those chances. So my gut tells me he stays in Russia at least for another year as the NHL may not participate in the Olympics.

    Seriously, go sign up for the athletic…For Powers alone.

  7. Raddysh also a right shot. For those that didn’t get the numbers it’s Darren Raddysh’s games played, goals, assists, points, +/-.

    Yale advanced so they’ve got at least 2 more games. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Hayden opt to not sign immediately to finish school. If he does sign he’d gain a couple bucks and it would burn his first year off his ELC, I’d prefer he waits.

    Dennis Gilbert, Luc Snuggerud, Lucas Carlson, Robin Norell, Robin Press, Forsling, Dahlstrom, and RFAs in Gustafson, Lurch, and Pokka… All guys that may be in Rockford so it may be tough signing a Raddysh type.

    I’d love to see Aston-Reese and army goalie Parker Gahagen sign. Gahagen can sign as recently he can delay his service time. He’s 6’3 and posted a .937 and .936 save% the last 2 years and has a 1.90 GAA

  8. re: college players drafted by the Blackhawks – I see very little/no reason to sign them and burn Year One of their ELC for a couple weeks when they aren’t needed on the NHL roster.

  9. The only reason would be if they’re threatening to wait until August and that doesnt appear to be the case.

  10. anyone seen both Vecchione and Reese play a few times? Offer any guesses of who will be better pro?

    Scouting says- Reese- is tough on boards/possession type guy

    Vecchione- speed, two way player, strong face-offs, motor…

    Never seen them play… but Vecchione has played for better program…

  11. Might want to remember to include Tanner Kero in that list of undrafted college free agents we’ve signed.

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