Late last week, Craig Custance posted his updated top 100 prospects in the NHL, and the Blackhawks had some names on the list. Here’s where Custance ranked Chicago’s prospects.
34. Artemi Panarin, LW
Panarin had an exceptional season, ranking 5th fifth in scoring in the KHL, and had a great World Championship, leading to a contract with Chicago. Sometimes free agents in their mid-20s can be undeservedly hyped, but Panarin is the real deal. He’s very quick and agile, great with the puck and sees the ice at a high level. He’s is small, and not great in his own end, but scouts note he’s got a little edge to his game and can finish in tight spaces. He could slot into an NHL top 9 right away and maybe even a top 6.
61. Ryan Hartman, RW
Hartman was quite impressive as a first-year pro, and hit his stride in the second half with 25 points in 34 AHL games after the turn of the calendar. I don’t think Hartman is going to wow you with his skill, and he’s not exceptionally quick, but he certainly can create chances and finish. He’s also pretty good defensively and very involved in the physical portions of the game. Hartman earned a brief call-up this past season and it’s not inconceivable to think he could push for a lengthier stay in the NHL in 2015-16.
64. Ville Pokka, D
Pokka was part of the Nick Leddy trade with the Islanders. He was quite good in his first AHL season, playing in all situations effectively. Pokka is a very intelligent defenseman who moves the puck very well and understands how to position himself defensively pretty well. The physical nature of the North American pro game was an adjustment for him this past season, especially given he’s not the quickest guy. I think he’s close to being NHL ready, and given the moves Chicago made this summer, the opportunity is there for him to seize.
Honorable Mention: Gustav Forsling, D
Last week, Custance also updated his organizational rankings. He placed the Blackhawks 16th in the NHL; they were 14th previously. Here’s what he had to say about the overall depth in the organization:
The Chicago system remains very deep, and though they graduated a big name in Teuvo Teravainen, the signing of Artemi Panarin nearly brought the same amount of talent into the organization. I have not loved the Blackhawks’ recent draft classes, but their current farm team has a lot of talent, and there are numerous prospects who can step in and play soon, if not right away.