Earlier, we looked at the top ten blue line prospects in the Blackhawks organization. It’s a good, deep group who could impact the Hawks’ NHL roster soon.
The same can be said for the group of talented forwards the Hawks have accumulated over the last few years. You’ll notice how many of the team’s top forward prospects will be playing college hockey this season, a trend the Hawks have continued throughout Stan Bowman’s tenure as general manager.
Let’s now rank the best forwards in the system.
First, two important notes about these rankings.
Kevin Hayes is not listed. Every indication is that, come August 15, Hayes will no longer be part of the Hawks’ organization. To waste our time discussing him at any length at this point seems to be worthless.
Secondly, we have also removed Jeremy Morin from the rankings. With a two-year, one-way contract signed, Morin appears to have done enough to earn a more regular role on the NHL roster. We’re certainly hoping that’s the case, because Morin is a skilled forward who could help the Hawks put pucks in the net.
- Matt Iacopelli – Muskegon (USHL) – 2014 Draft
- Beau Starrett – South Shore (USPHL) – 2014 Draft
- Maxim Shalunov – Rockford (AHL) – 2011 Draft
- Anthony Louis – Miami (NCAA) – 2013 Draft
- Drew LeBlanc – Rockford (AHL) – signed as free agent
15. Luke Johnson
Draft: 2013 – 5th round (134th overall)
2013-14 Team: North Dakota
Last year as a freshman, Johnson scored eight goals and added 13 assists in 42 games at North Dakota. He’ll be on the same roster as 2014 first round pick Nick Schmaltz at North Dakota this coming season.
14. Chris Calnan
Draft: 2012 – 3rd round (79th overall)
2013-14 Team: Boston College
Calnan was also a freshman playing college hockey last year, skating at Boston College. Jeremy Roenick’s nephew scored four goals and added nine assists in 37 games for the powerhouse Eagles last year.
13. Dennis Rasmussen
Acquired: signed as free agent
2013-14 Team: Vaxjo (SHL)
Rasmussen, 24, will be a fascinating player to watch in Rockford this season. He was courted by a number of NHL teams after tying for ninth in the Swedish Hockey league with 40 points (16 goals, 24 assists) in 52 games. He has good size and has been described as a strong defensive forward who’s good at the dot.
12. Alex Broadhurst
Draft: 2011 – 7th round (199th overall)
2013-14 Team: Rockford (AHL)
Broadhurst, 21, finished third on the IceHogs with 45 points (16 goals, 29 assists) in 75 games last year. Had ten multi-point games with Rockford last season.
11. Matt Carey
Acquired: signed as a free agent
2013-14 Team: St. Lawrence (ECAC), Chicago (NHL)
Carey signed as a free agent after one good college season. The 22-year-old scored 18 goals and added 19 assists in 38 games before taking his game to the professional ranks. After signing with the Hawks, he appeared in two NHL games and scored a goal.
10. Tyler Motte
Draft: 2013 – 4th round (121st overall)
2013-14 Team: Michigan (B1G)
Motte, 19, enjoyed a solid freshman year in Ann Arbor, posting nine goals and nine assists in 34 games with the Wolverines. Motte is one of four Hawks prospects (Schmaltz, Louis, Hayden) invited to USA Hockey’s Evaluation Camp for the upcoming World Junior Championships. Unfortunately, Motte did not attend this summer’s prospect camp.
9. Nick Schmaltz
Draft: 2014 – 1st round (20th overall)
2013-14 Team: Green Bay (USHL)
The Blackhawks traded up to get Schmaltz in this summer’s draft. He led all scorers with five goals in five games at the 2013 Ivan Hlinka tournament and his eight points were tied for second. He’s a skilled forward who will get time to develop at North Dakota.
8. Joakim Nordstrom
Draft: 2010 – 3rd round (90th overall)
2013-14 Team(s): Rockford (AHL), Chicago (NHL)
Nordstrom was a bit of a surprise when he broke camp with the Hawks in October. He scored 17 goals and 16 assists in 58 games with the IceHogs and also contributed one goal and two assists in 16 games in the NHL. He saw action in seven postseason games with the Hawks and will be an option for a bottom-six role in Chicago this season. He did not attend this summer’s prospect camp.
7. John Hayden
Draft: 2013 – 3rd round (74th overall)
2013-14 Team: Yale
Hayden is a big, strong forward who has been the best forward-not-named-Teuvo at the last two Blackhawks prospect camps. After a slow start at Yale last year, he finished with six goals and 10 assists in 33 games. Still a teenager, he uses his big body well.
6. Mark McNeill
Draft: 2011 – 1st round (18th overall)
2013-14 Team: Rockford
McNeill will likely be the returning goal scorer in Rockford this season; he scored 18 and added 19 assists in 76 games in his first professional season in the AHL last year. Drafted as a center, McNeill is working primarily as a wing now.
5. Garret Ross
Draft: 2012 – 5th round (159th overall)
2013-14 Team: Rockford
Ross, 22, was another player who impressed in his first professional season in Rockford last season. In 74 games, he scored 15 goals and added 19 assists for the IceHogs. Ross was a teammate of Brandon Saad’s in Saginaw in 2011-12, a season in which he piled up 54 points (25 goals and 29 assists) and 93 penalty minutes in 60 games.
4. Vince Hinostroza
Draft: 2012 – 6th round (169th overall)
2013-14 Team: Notre Dame
He isn’t the biggest prospect in the system, but Hinostroza had one of the better freshman seasons in Hockey East last year. Despite missing six games, Hinostroza finished third on the Irish with 32 points (8 goals, 24 assists) in 36 games. He’s an exciting young forward who will head back to South Bend this year.
3. Ryan Hartman
Draft: 2013 – 1st round (30th overall)
2013-14 Team(s): Plymouth (OHL), Rockford (AHL)
Hartman will play his first professional season in Rockford this year after an excellent final year in the OHL. He scored 25 goals with 28 assists in 52 games with Plymouth before joining the IceHogs for nine games; Hartman recorded seven points in those nine games in the AHL.
2. Phillip Danault
Draft: 2011 – 1st round (26th overall)
2013-14 Team: Rockford
Danault scored six goals with 20 assists in Rockford last season. Selected in the same first round as McNeill, he has remained at center and projects to a role similar to what Marcus Kruger is playing in Chicago now.
1. Teuvo Teräväinen
Draft: 2012 – 1st round (18th overall)
2013-14 Team(s): Jokerit (Liiga), Rockford (AHL), Chicago (NHL)
Teräväinen is one of the top play-making prospects in the NHL, and won’t be in Rockford for long. He’s added some size in the last year and was clearly the best player at this summer’s prospect camp.
There is a lot of size, skill and grit in the system, all of which the Hawks will need in the coming years. With the contract extensions signed by Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, this will be an important season for players like Danault, Hartman, McNeill and Ross to show that they are ready to make the jump to the NHL in the not-too-distant future.