Ranking The Blackhawks Prospects

The 2018 NHL Draft is June 22–23 in Dallas, meaning we are less than two weeks away from the Chicago Blackhawks (potentially) making a top ten selection for the first time since Patrick Kane.

Stan Bowman has been active already, getting a number of top prospects signed and adding a couple international free agents as well. One name that won’t be back is Chris DiDomenico, who reportedly signed a deal in Europe after a nice run in Rockford this season.

One interesting note regarding a name missing from the list below, goaltender Ivan Nalimov. He has reportedly terminated his contract with his KHL club and Scott Powers at The Athletic is reporting that he has asked the Blackhawks to trade his rights.

With trade rumors swirling and the draft coming soon, it’s a good time to take inventory of the prospect group the Blackhawks have in-house already. Who will make an impact on the 2018-19 Blackhawks (and IceHogs)?

Here are our top 35 prospects.

1. Dylan Sikura, F
DOB: June 1, 1995 (age: 23)
5-11, 175  Shoots: L
Acquired: 6th round (#178) – 2014 NHL Draft

Sikura finished a stellar college career and immediately joined the Blackhawks for five NHL games at the end of the regular season, during which he was credited with three assists. The organization is extremely high on him, and he showed flashes last year. He averaged 13:24 on ice per game in his limited NHL action. He could be a candidate for top-six minutes next year, but he could also follow the path of Nick Schmaltz and John Hayden and get some Rockford games in as well.

2. Henri Jokiharju, D
DOB: June 17, 1999 (age: 19)
6-0, 180  Shoots: R
Acquired: 1st round (#29) – 2017 NHL Draft

Jokiharju signed his ELC earlier this week and will reportedly get a long look during training camp. He posted 71 points in 63 games with Portland in the WHL last season and added two goals and two assists in five games for Finland at the World Juniors.

3. Ian Mitchell, D
DOB: January 18, 1999 (age: 18)
5-11, 175  Shoots: R
Acquired: 2nd round (#57) – 2017 NHL Draft

Mitchell was one of the top freshman defenseman in the country last year, putting up 30 points in 41 games for the defending national champions at the University of Denver. Mitchell was used on both special teams and was a top pair defenseman for the Pioneers, often skating with another Hawks prospect, Blake Hillman.  He’ll return to DU for a sophomore year.

4. Victor Ejdsell, F
DOB: June 5, 1995 (age: 23)
6-5, 214  Shoots: L
Acquired: via trade from Nashville

Ejdsell was part of the trade that sent Ryan Hartman to Nashville at the deadline and joined the Blackhawks when his SHL season ended. He produced one assist in six NHL games and also had one assist in five regular season AHL games with Rockford. He stayed with the IceHogs for the AHL playoffs and emerged as a solid power forward, recording 12 points in 13 postseason games. He has a great chance of being a regular on the Blackhawks next season.

5. Dominik Kahun, F
DOB: July 2, 1995 (age: 23)
5-11, 175  Shoots: L
Acquired: signed as a free agent

Kahun caught the eye of the NHL with a strong performance at the Winter Olympics and signed with the Blackhawks in May. He’s a good skater who showed a reliable two-way game at the Olympics and World Championships for Germany. He’ll get a long look in camp as well.

6. Artur Kayumov, F
DOB: February 14, 1998 (age: 20)
5-11, 181  Shoots: L
Acquired: 2nd round (#50) – 2016 NHL Draft

Kayumov has a ton of skill, which is why the Blackhawks used a second round pick on him a couple summers ago. Injuries slowed down his KHL regular season, but he looked great at the World Junior Championships; he was one of Russia’s top forwards at the tournament. He will be a contract candidate following the upcoming season.

7. Andrei Altybarmakyan, F
DOB: August 4, 1998 (age: 20)
5-11, 183  Shoots: L
Acquired: 3rd round (#70) – 2017 NHL Draft

A second player from last year’s draft class in the top seven looks good for Bowman, and Altybarmakyan has the makings of an intriguing prospect. He appeared in 15 games for SKA, one of the top teams in the KHL, as a teenager last year. He has a great shot and he’s happy to use it – frequently. Like Kayumov, he impressed at the World Junior Championships with Russia.

8. Gustav Forsling, D
DOB: June 12, 1996 (age: 22)
6-0, 185  Shoots: L
Acquired: via trade from Vancouver

Acquired in 2015 from the Canucks for Adam Clendening, it feels like Forsling has been around forever… but he just turned 22 this week. He still has a good ceiling and potential to be an NHL contributor, though he went back to Rockford after producing 13 points in 41 NHL games last season. He’s in the mix for the Hawks’ roster this fall.

9. John Hayden, F
DOB: February 14, 1995 (age: 23)
6-3, 223  Shoots: R
Acquired: 3rd round (#74) – 2013 NHL Draft

Hayden appeared in 47 games with the Blackhawks last season and was arguably the most physical forward when he was on the ice. He averaged 10:49 in his NHL games and produced 13 points with 54 penalty minutes. Hayden added three goals in 13 playoff appearances with Rockford. Hayden is expected to be in the mix for a role with the Blackhawks next season.

10. Lucas Carlsson, D
DOB: July 5, 1997 (age: 21)
6-0, 185  Shoots: L
Acquired: 4th round (#110) – 2016 NHL Draft

Carlsson has flown up the rankings of Blackhawks blue line prospects over the last year and had a terrific season in the SHL. According to Scott Powers at The Athletic, Carlsson and presumed #1 pick in this month’s NHL Draft, Rasmus Dahlin, were the only defensemen under the age of 21 to average 18-plus minutes in the SHL this past season. He signed his ELC with the Hawks earlier this summer.

11. David Kampf, F
DOB: January 12, 1995 (age: 23)
6-2, 195  Shoots: L
Acquired: signed as free agent

Kampf signed as a free agent in May of 2017 and made his way to Chicago during his first professional season in North America. With the Blackhawks, Kampf averaged 12:48 per game and produced 11 points in 46 games. He did a good job at the dot and would be a good bet to be the fourth line center in Chicago when the 2018-19 season begins.

12. Collin Delia, G
DOB: June 20, 1994 (age: 24)
6-2, 200
Acquired: signed as free agent

Delia’s run in the AHL this season has certainly given him the top spot among goaltending prospects in the organization. Whether or not he’s on the NHL depth chart on opening night will depend on how comfortable Bowman is with Crawford’s health and what he can/can’t get done via trade or in free agency.

13. Tim Söderlund, F
DOB: January 23, 1998 (age: 20)
5-9, 165  Shoots: L
Acquired: 4th round (#112) – 2017 NHL Draft

Söderlund had five points in seven games for Sweden at the World Junior Championships and was among the better under-20 forwards in the SHL last season. He profiles as a potential bottom-six forward with an offensive upside.

14. Chad Krys, D
DOB: April 10, 1998 (age: 20)
6-0, 185  Shoots: L
Acquired: 2nd round (#45) – 2016 NHL Draft

Krys had a solid sophomore season at Boston University, posting seven goals and 20 assists in 36 games. He’s a terrific skater with a lot of offensive ability, but has work to do in his own end. Lots of scouts were higher on Krys a couple summers ago than they are now, but he’ll return to BU for a junior year to put in some more work.

15. Carl Dahlström, D
DOB: January 28, 1995 (age: 23)
6-4, 231  Shoots: L
Acquired: 2nd round (#51) – 2013 NHL Draft

Dahlström made some nice strides in his second full season in North America and earned a promotion to the NHL late last season. He had three assists in 11 NHL games before heading back to Rockford for the playoffs; Dahlström produced nine points in 13 postseason games for the IceHogs. He has a big body and showed he can be an effective shot blocker in limited action with the Hawks last year.

16. Blake Hillman, D
DOB: January 26, 1996 (age: 22)
6-1, 180  Shoots: L
Acquired: 6th round (#173) – 2016 NHL Draft

Hillman has been a terrific surprise, developing into a solid pro prospect over his three seasons at the University of Denver. He left school a year early and signed with the Hawks in the spring and appeared in four NHL contests, during which time he scored his first NHL goal.

Dennis Gilbert

17. Dennis Gilbert, D
DOB: October 30, 1996 (age: 22)
6-2, 200  Shoots: L
Acquired: 3rd round (#91) – 2015 NHL Draft

Gilbert draws comparisons to former Blackhawks prospect Stephen Johns because a) he, too, went to Notre Dame, and b) they both like to hit. Gilbert decided to leave the Irish after three seasons and will be worth watching because he brings an amount of nasty the Hawks lack on the blue line. He was one of the nation’s leading shot blockers at Notre Dame.

18. Matthew Highmore, F
DOB: February 27, 1996 (age: 22)
5-11, 181  Shoots: L
Acquired: signed as free agent

Highmore had a terrific career with Saint John in the QMJHL, putting up 89 points in 64 games during the 2016-17 season before signing with the Hawks last March. He was able to continue producing in the AHL, scoring 24 goals in 64 games for Rockford last season and earning a brief call-up to Chicago. Highmore scored twice in 11 games with the Blackhawks last season and could be in the mix for a bottom-six spot in camp.

19. Jacob Nilsson, F
DOB: October 12, 1993 (age: 25)
5-10, 181  Shoots: L
Acquired: signed as free agent

Nilsson signed at the end of May and adds another European veteran to the mix up front. He had 18 points in 40 games last season for Mora IK in the SHL. He only signed a one-year deal.

20. Joni Tuulola, D
DOB: January 1, 1996 (age: 22)
6-2, 200  Shoots: L
Acquired: 6th round (#181) – 2015 NHL Draft

Tuulola had a fine season with a new club in Finland (30 points in 58 games) and signed with the Hawks earlier this summer. He has nice size and, after joining Rockford, settled in on the IceHogs’ third defensive pair with Clendening in the playoffs.

Jakub Galvas

The Next 15

21. Jakub Galvas, D
22. Luke Johnson, F
23. Evan Barratt, F
24. Luc Snuggerud, D
25. Joshua Ess, D
26. Alexandre Fortin, F
27. Roope Laavainen, D
28. Darren Raddysh, D
29. Kevin Lankinen, G
30. Anthony Louis, F
31. Wouter Peeters, G
32. Radovan Bondra, F
33. Jake Ryczek, D
34. Fredrik Olofsson, F
35. Nathan Noel, F

27 thoughts on “Ranking The Blackhawks Prospects

  1. Tab- thanks for the work.

    I would bump both Kampf (all ready proven- he can Play in NHL and Soderlund (Shaw – like motor/drive) up the chart…

    I also think Evan Barratt- will be a pleasant surprise….
    Seems like Snuggy is trending wrong way –

    and I am still not a believer in Jokiharju — Hope I am wrong

  2. If we are really serious about giving the core another shot or two, we have some chips to play with. Thanks for listing and discussing them in one spot Tab.

    If we’re going that retooling route I would imagine we can pick up maybe 6 good free agents. 3 from the cap space we have and 3 from unloading salary.

    As the Carolina rumours show, acquiring them and dumping salary will cost something (in that example, Saad). If we want to compete next year, we can’t trade much of value from the roster. So we really can’t retool without depleting the farm system somehow.

    This off-season has a strong make or break feel for me. As in the next half decade is on the line. Really keen to watch it play out.

  3. Travis, when has any NHL team signed six free agents in one off season? Without looking it up, I am pretty sure that the answer is never. I think we need to pin our hopes for this season on something more realistic. It does feel like a turning point kind of offseason, but if Toews can’t regain his health due to too many head injuries, this team will never be the same anyway.

    Looking at this list, the competition for AHL defense slots is going to be intense, regardless of what moves the Hawks make on the blueline. There are a lot of guys here competing for spots, and I suppose the hope is that one or two of them rises to the occasion and asserts themselves. It is unlikely that they all can suck.

    The forward depth here seems nothing to write home about and very limited. Mostly 4th line types or fringe AHL guys, or guys too young to even sign. Sikura could develop into something but easily could need 3/4 of a year in Rockford. Makes me think I’d be vary wary of trading the few NHL forwards we have to convert them to blueline help (ie all the Saad for Faulk rumors) when we have no one at forward to backfill those slots.

    Why would we trade Nails when we need a goalie probably both here and in Rockford? Tell him to come here and start playing in our system or stay in Russia playing for nobody.

  4. Shalumov = too old to be considered a prospect?
    Nalimov = I see no reason to grant the trade request. If he thinks he’s all that and a bag of chips he should come audition for the backup spot. It’s not like the Hawks have an entrenched backup. No one is going to plug him in as a starter right away anyhow.

  5. I saw about 20 Hogs games last season including all home playoff games. Although knowing that there’s more to the game than point production, nonetheless, Kampf did not score a single goal while I watched. Something, anything on the scoresheet is needed even for a 4th liner. Noel, I’m not sure he dressed once and I was assured by Hogs people in the know that he was a healthy scratch for much of the 2nd half of the season.
    I liked Tuulola at the end of the year when he joined the Hogs…bigger body and played with an edge.
    Interesting that the lead photo of the article is of Tyler Sikura who didn’t get a mention at all.

  6. This prospect pool scares me, and not in a good way. The blackhawks were a last place team last season and probably have one of the weaker prospect pools in the NHL. Street FAs and not the way to build a strong NHL pipeline. Sure some of these players can hit but when your top prospect is proably a top 9 forward at best that’s a HUGE red flag. Hopefully SB can use Nalimov as a toss in for any deal he makes since he clearly do not want to be here.

  7. I was very disappointed the Fortin didn’t have a better season. I compared him to Mike Hoffman with his great skating ability and a longer maturation process to get to the Bigs so that’s still a possibility but he needs to take a step forward this coming season of he may get lost in the shuffle of so many middling prospects.

  8. I don’t see a single impact player out of these groups. No Fortin? What happened to him? When I say impact player I mean top 6 forward, top 4 defenseman or starting NHL Goalie. Not to mention a lot of the guys “prospects” are old not in actual age but NHL career age, 23 is old and lack the pedigree. To me none of it looks promising.

  9. Borrowing from baseball, no 5 tool players in that lot. Not sure what the hockey equivalent would be but most of our guys are no better than 3’s. I think HJ is a decent second pair candidate (maybe Mitchell too). I don’t know about Sikura – maybe, but he is awfully lean (and not that fast).

    Taking left defense as an example, if one of Carlson, Tuulola, Hillman, or Gilbert eventually makes it on third pairing that be a win. My point is that you can’t expect a lot from these guys. A few will make it, most won’t.

    We really need to show patience by keeping our high picks and hopefully drafting a stud (or two), dumping the Hossa contract, and getting what we can for AA. The focus needs to be on long-term development, not short-term recovery. Stan’s entire tenure though has been with a team that is trying to get over the top, which requires a different approach than a rebuild. I’m nervous about how this plays out.

  10. Zebra- Nice to read your post on Tuulola… I have been a real big fan/after watching him U-20 Fins

    But- on another Blog site… one poster really was negative on Tuulola in Hogs/PO games…

    I have always – thought of you as one of the better posters here… so I hope your Opinions/eyes are better than the other poster on Joni

    Re: Kampf- yes he didn’t score much in Hogs PO run… actually scored more on Hawks… but- he is a great checker/skater… and his “value” is in the NEW NHL- where lot’s of Re-direct goals/deflections… and get to the front of the net- and Pickup the trash goals are scored/needed – especially if u are not Top 6 guy…

    Good IQ and + skater= NHL job

    I am really hoping this Kahun- is as good as his Bio reads…. skates ++, Great hands,, and has been a big asset on couple of Championship Teams in Europe

    says- Winner to me!!!

  11. Jordyhawk thing is the owner has said be competitive next season or changes are coming is Bowmans directive. So waiting a few years is not in his window.
    There are some players here who have yet to develop and may be solid NHL players. Schmaltz and Debrincat were not considered strong prospects by alot of posters either so patience us needed.

  12. Jordyhawk, I agree that at this point there are not many prospects to get excited about but I disagree that Sikura “isn’t that fast”. I wouldn’t put Sikura on the top rung of NHL speedsters, but he’s plenty quick/fast/shifty to be a good top-6 winger.

  13. I’m just more confused; was Hossa off the cap last year and now on it this year??? what’s the deal?

  14. Recliner Hossa was put on ltir on opening day and the Blackhawks were allowed to exceed salary cap for rest of season. From the end of season to July 1st there is no salary cap and then off season will start which is 10% over new cap. By opening day they have to down to salary cap again. By moving his caphit they lose the limitations of ltir and have full use of his room.

  15. Agree with most here that there is not a lot of high quality – Sikura might become top 6 but at 23 already how much better is he going to become from what he is now

    He’ll learn the game and he’s got a good hockey IQ so I think can play in the NHL but if he gets regular top 6 minutes I’ll be a bit surprised – I think 3rd line is where he’ll fit

    Looking at this list it’s all the more important to land a prospect at #8 in the draft who will be an impact player either at F or D – I don’t like the idea of trading that pick unless it’s to move to a slot in the draft where they know they can get the player they want – not for an NHL vet – get those some other way

  16. I think there needs to be some patience as one or two of these guys could elevate as they get older like Keith did.
    The good news is that there is a lot of guys with some talent, and hopefully one or two more are added this month. Fortin s an example of a guy that hasn’t elevated but might. (Knott who was intriguing if only for the size, isn’t even in the top 35-that’s a possible dud) The other possible piece of good news, is with some patience, there may be another top 10 pick next year. It’s really hard to re-stock with pick 29, or no first round pick.
    Hopefully one of the Russians or Soderlund surprises, because they can create havoc at times.

  17. Wrap, same thoughts.

    We were a last place team, in the hardest division. Every other division were 5th, 4th in some…. regardless we could not have played any worse after Crow was out and still, goalie, not deep on D, no nhl back up, sch bounces posts lots of younger guys in 1st or 2ndish yrs and new guys to system, the list goes on and none of it is a excuse. It happened. Blessing is on the deepest draft in yrs? Still we have lots of moves to make to get back, then wait for the next Calvary of young players to be ready.

    I would take another top 10 pick for our coming yr of being deep again, do not think that’s happening anytime soon. I see the younger guys starting to gather on the roster and it be noticeable for the 2nd 40 games this yr. Be primed for the 20 season, with more good young players still coming.

    Theres no excuse to not add a elite player like Tarvares etc. That’s how we got Soupy and Hoss.

  18. I mean we could have a 20 over .500 record in a yr coming up and be the 21stish pick and then trade up to 10th pick….

    Sort of like the yr/draft yr we traded up to get Schmaltz.

  19. I am real interested to see what Kahun can do, very few are offered maximum bonuses to sign, so they must be high on him. Hopefully he can be another Panarin and catch that lightning in a bottle again.

  20. @ Pete – I want to see any commitment from Shalunov that he will ever come to North America to consider him on a list like this. There’s a lot to like there, and others consider him a top ten prospect in the organization. And, when we provide updates throughout the season we will occasionally include him. But he’s still under contract in Russia.

    re: Travis – LOL @ six free agents. Really, that’s hilarious. I have argued that the Hawks would have been better off signing fewer free agents last year & staying with the kids in house already (read: Hinostroza & Hayden > Sharp & Bouma) and submit that there aren’t six spots available in Chicago or Rockford. The Blackhawks need someone to change the dynamics on the blue line and an impact forward. But bigger than either of those, they need health and stability in net.

  21. Tab- agreed- Hawks should have played more kids last year

    + they might have an even higher pick- if they did… and given kids more experience

  22. We would have needed to play 80 games without the Crow to do worse then we did record wise.

  23. I just stumbled across the Mark Lazerus Tracy Myers podcast. I’ll be honest is not the best hockey podcast (spitting clicklets is) but those are 2 people who are really plugged into the team. Anyways here were his thoughts for what it’s worth. Didn’t feel like Tavares was on the table, felt like the Hawks will keep the 8th pick and pick Oliver Walstrom.

  24. I am good with that. Not good with sitting on 10m in space to wait for the young guys to be established. Sign 1/2 etc yr contracts if need be. Do not sit.

  25. Yeah, let me make my point more clearly.

    This team is at least 4 solid free agents from being serious contenders. Two on the blue line, one up front, and one in net. At least 4. Then factor in injuries and that a few free agents don’t live up to expectations, and yeah, we need like 6 good adds via the market.

    Not saying we should do that, or that it’s wise. That’s what I judge we need to turn a below-average team into a serious contender in a tough division in one offseason. So if we’re going to go for it (and maybe we shouldn’t), that’s what we need. Just don’t half-ass it and get two good free agents for picks and prospects only to achieve mediocrity purgatory. Go big or build for the future.

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