Blackhawks Improved Prospect Pipeline Getting Attention
After two non-playoff finishes the Blackhawks have taken advantage of higher draft choices – and, apparently, selected wisely. Their prospect pool has quickly climbed the rankings by analysts of the league, and could have an impact on the NHL roster as soon as this coming season.
The addition of Kirby Dach made a serious impact on the climb, but two additions via trade did as well. Alex Nylander, acquired from Buffalo in a trade for Henri Jokiharju, has been mentioned frequently as another potential buy-low player in the mold of Dylan Strome. And Aleksi Saarela, acquired from Carolina with Calvin deHaan, has also been a player with high offensive upside.
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At The Athletic, Corey Pronman had the Blackhawks up to 10th overall this year.
He offered this analysis:
“Chicago has been rebuilding on the fly, getting a fortunate third-overall pick in 2019 that led to Kirby Dach. Its farm is one of the deepest in the NHL. At the top there is some really high-end skill coming in Dach, Adam Boqvist and Alexander Nylander. All three players inspire debates among scouts as to what they will ultimately become, but there is no denying there is game-breaking talent in the pipeline.”
At The Sporting News, Steve Kournianos had the Hawks climb from the 23rd-ranked organization last summer to 15th this year.
He offered the following analysis:
“One of the bigger movers from last year’s list, the Blackhawks had luck on their side when they won the third pick in the draft lottery following a season in which they improved in the standings and nearly snuck into the playoffs. The reward turned out to be big-bodied center Kirby Dach, who can be a heck of a set-up man and groomed to one day replace captain Jonathan Toews. If Dach can make the team out of camp, he’s versatile enough to play wing and contribute to the power play. The decision to take Dach over defenseman Bowen Byram was a bit of a surprise, but not as much as the post-draft trade of 2017 first-rounder Henri Jokiharju to Buffalo for finesse winger Alex Nylander, a former first-round selection himself. Although a right-shot defenseman like Jokiharju likely was expendable after promising seasons from both Adam Boqvist and Ian Mitchell, he had an outstanding start to his rookie NHL season. Nylander, on the other hand, has game-breaking potential but his time as Sabres property was nothing short of underwhelming. A new start with Chicago could revive his offensive flair.”
Kournianos’ top ten prospects in the Blackhawks organization are:
- Adam Boqvist, D
- Kirby Dach, C
- Evan Barratt, C
- Ian Mitchell, D
- Alex Nylander, F
- Nicolas Beaudin, D
- Lucas Carlsson, D
- Aleksi Saarela, F
- Niklas Nordgren, F
- Arthur Kayumov, F
Pronman ranked 24 prospects in the Blackhawks organization.
- Dominik Kubalik, F
- Alex Vlasic, D
- Aleksi Saarela
- Philipp Kurashev, F
- Matthew Highmore, C
- Kevin Lankinen, G
- Antti Saarela, C
- Michal Teply, F
- Alexis Gravel, G
- Alexandre Fortin, F
- Jake Wise, C
- Brandon Hagel, F
- Chad Krys, D
- Mackenzie Entwistle, F
- Anton Wedin, F
Honorable Mention: Dennis Gilbert, Tim Soderlund, Cole Moberg, Andrei Altybarmakyan, Jakub Galvas.
30 thoughts on “Blackhawks Improved Prospect Pipeline Getting Attention”
Pretty impressive looking list, hopefully hearing good things about half a dozen or more of those names for number of years.
Along with their names getting added to the Cup…!
A couple of things jump out at me from these lists
1) Dach on Pronman’s list although ranked as the top Hawk prospect is only ranked as a High End Prospect not an Elite Prospect like Cole Caufield is for MTL (if you read Pronman’s entire piece) – that difference is a big reason why MTL is ranked 6th and the Hawks 10th on Pronman’s list – however it’s easy to imagine the Dach could end up having the better career but we’ll have to wait
2) Kourianos doesn’t include Kubalik in his top 10 – either he doesn’t consider him a prospect or he doesn’t know about him
3) Have to admit I don’t know Barrat’s game very well so I don’t really think of him as a top prospect but I guess I should – he’s quite high on both lists
4) Nice to see Nylander getting some love from Pronman – really hope he works out
Wow. I disagree with Pronman’s list big time.
I am basing this entirely on last year’s WJC so grain of salt, but I thought Kurashev looked like he had a much higher ceiling than Evan Barratt.
Saarela ratings are encouraging.
Arthur Kayumov? Most likely another pick who fizzles and never makes it across the pond. Not sure why he would even be in the top 20.
Really surprised Barratt was rated so highly on both lists and that Kurashev didn’t make to top-10 on either list. I like both players but Kurashev seems more likely to be a middle-6 whereas Barratt seems more like a bottom-6 guy.
But, the point is that the Hawks’ prospect pipeline has improved and I’m in full agreement on that.
I agree that the Hawks have improved their depth and talent in the system quite a bit. I wonder at the confidence rating of each prospect reaching their mark (High end, legit NHL player etc…) If Nylander ends up being a top six forward for the Hawks, I would consider that a huge win, (the same goes for Kubalik…) But if the hawks can’t get Nylander to the next level, losing Joki with nothing in return is a huge hole to fill.
Am I too concerned about what Nylander will eventually be with the Hawks? I get that 21 years old there is a lot of room for growth, so I am not suggesting he won’t pan out. Just concerned is all.
Some Evan Barratt and Lucas Carlsson love…from guys that actually watch prospects. Unlike the knuckleheads at second City. Those 3 for their 25 under 25 list came up with the following…I’ll only list the prospects
9. Aleksi Saarela
Ok, Barratt was actually 25th, but guys like Strome, Debrincat, Dahlstrom, and Perlini, and Kampf aren’t prospects in my book.
Regarding Barratt, I think his game is a middle 6 role. If he’s not producing offensively, he can still impact the game defensively. Also, I think some people put college hockey where you’re playing against 18-24 yr olds at a slightly higher rung than junior where you’re playing against 16-20 year olds.
Ryczek played 5 games in Providence. Had 1 goal. Jumped to the Q. Played 33 games there and put up 27 points.
AJ greer- Colorado- 12pts in 55NCAA games. 27 points in 33 Q games
Paul Cotter- Vegas- 1 point in 8 NCAA games. 26 points in 48 OHL games
Those are the only 3 names I could come up with going back to the 2015 draft that went from the NCAA to Canadian major junior. Every one had a significant production increase.
As far as Nylander… Going through each teams draft and I noticed Daniel Sprong. A few things stuck out, aside from his hair loss. First, the Penguins threw him in the fire in the NHL in 15/16 the same year he was drafted. Played 18 NHL games to the tune of 2g 0a. Then sent him back to junior burning his first year on his ELC. Because of a late birthday he was not AHL eligible in 16/17 and spent the whole year in the Q…again. 17/18 was AHL eligible and put up 65 points in 65 games. In 18/19 played 16 NHL games with 4 assists and then was traded to Anaheim.
After being jerked around in Pittsburgh. Anaheim have him ice, and he put up 14g 5a on a really depleted Anaheim roster in 47 games. A really nice start to a turnaround for the guy.
I bring him up for 2 prospects in mind. First being Nylander. He was jerked around going back and forth between Rochester and Buffalo due to impatience on Buffalo well before the kid was NHL ready. Not unlike Sprong.
Second, to remind us that Dach doesn’t and shouldn’t be rushed. Pittsburgh burned 2 years of Sprongs ELC for 2 points in 18 games when he was 18. While I’m on Dach, it’s notable that Kournianos mentioned his ability to play forward this year. Something I brought up. If Dach is here, I want him playing mostly top 6 minutes. The only place for that currently is wing.
Loags, what’s wrong with it? Who would you move up/down?
Krys I thought was low considering what he did briefly in the A. Vlasic is a little high considering the value most place on non offensive producing d men. Highmore even after a bad shoulder injury is pretty high as well. But he produced at a professional level. Something very few prospects on the list can say, with the exception of Kubalik who was the leading scorer in his pro league. Kubalik was also named best forward and league MVP
Wrap, Caufield strikes me as a one dimensional boom or bust guy. Kyle Beach-esque if you will, he “floats”. The goal scoring is impressive. But those numbers have to be more balanced. How many guys put a 5:2 ratio of goals to assists? Look at Ovi and Laine. Both guys capable of playing a heavy game. Laine when he wasn’t scoring goals was damn near invisible… Because like Caufield, he floats. Laine can be a difference maker when he’s not producing, but he just doesn’t. Even the guy Caufield gets compared to in Debrincat was pretty much a 50/50 goals assist guy. So Debrincat clearly had the playmaking ability that I question with Caufield. Especially with the linemates he had. I’m not saying they dragged him around the ice, just that you’d expect him to have some form of playmaking. The goal scoring tool is obviously elite with him, so the ceiling is high. But everything else a GIANT question mark. I wish the kid luck, but he is the quintessential high floor low ceiling prospect. I’m not sure how you could characterize his overall game as “elite”.
Ebony, take a look at the PNHLE system Dobber came up with. It based it off of league averages and player production. Let’s remember that Debrincat didn’t play in that tournament at that age. 2 years later he puts up 40 in the show!
The methodology shows Barratt with 1c potential, while Kurashev seems to be trending towards 2c. Wouldn’t base rankings off one tournament. Way too many variables. His production dipped after the tournament, and had surgery in the off-season. Makes one wonder.
Good stuff Rusty – always enjoy your take
Pre 2007 draft for some laughs as well as perspective.
3. Chicago Blackhawks
Strengths: Chicago will have the luxury of choosing the best player no matter what position with the first overall pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, as they’ve done a solid job in accumulating potential across all positions. Led by blue-chippers Jonathan Toews up front and Cam Barker on the point, the Blackhawks also can count on a wealth of solid, character prospects like former London Knights Danny Richmond and Dave Bolland, as well as NCAA standout Jack Skille. Netminder Corey Crawford is a solid goaltender of the future for Chicago.
Weaknesses: Beyond Toews and Barker, there are no sure-fire, blue-chippers in the Blackhawks organization. Bolland is solid and plays with some grit, but is not one you’ll hang your offensive hat on. Behind Crawford, the organizational goaltending depth leaves something to be desired.
Top Five Prospects: Jonathan Toews (C), Cam Barker (D), Jack Skille (RW), Dave Bolland (C), Corey Crawford (G)
Key Graduates: James Wisniewski
No mention of Byfuglien, Brouwer, Brickell, or Versteeg. All of whom the Blackhawks owned the rights to.
Agree with the depth available no need to rush Dach or Boqvist, Nylander for that matter either until he has a chance to get acclimated. Blackhawks have a bistory of not doing that. However if there is a feeling they are ready to thrive at Nhl level, then that’s where they belong, so they will and should get their opportunity.
The Ncaa vs juniors, yes Ncaa is older but average size isn’t alot bigger than in juniors, so size still big adjustment for both. In juniors you get the gruelling Nhl type long season schedule, thats where alot of Ncaa players find the adjustment difficult. A big part of the reason alot of Hobey Baker winners or highly touted graduates struggle in Nhl is having to deal with a night in night out schedule vs a part time athlete/student one. That may play part in production, plus type of game played, some leagues just more offensive and wide open than others. The physical load of such a schedule is much more demanding. The down side is it can on average cause more injury issues that can follow player, into pro careers. Also being younger maturity level coming out of juniors is obviously not what a the average player coming out of College brings.
I still think Chicago sold low with Henri.
Time will tell. Overall the team looks strong.
Pronman ranked 24 prospects in the Blackhawks organization.
Dominik Kubalik, F
Alex Vlasic, D
Philipp Kurashev, F
Kurachev could be higher up, though thats lots and lots of good players there, not just prospects there.
Barratt could be good. Hes the kind of player people, hoped, Morin would be.
To me this group of players is like the one from 2008-2009. Then half were ready for 2009 and the other half were for 2010. In 2008 we had a 1/2 roster, like last two yrs.
Not saying we get the same kind of group we did then, though I think the wave is just as big. I do not know other then 19 88 we had any player as good as 77 and 8 are going to be from that wave, though this wave is very similiar.
Mo what they do on the ice will be the test, prospects are often ranked by potential to play top line or top 6, top pair or top 4. I don’t see Barrett although hope i’m wrong in that group. I do see him as strong potential like Entwistle to make an impact in bottom 6 role, vital to championship teams and think should count for alot too.
Kurashev defintely has top 6 potential and seemed to answer alot of critics last season.
Barratt can be like a Shawzer with maybe more scoring and less mean, though same style of player.
Miro, I wouldnt look at it as a huge hole, because we have many others that will be about the same as Buckaroo. I look at it as it would be another good player we would have had or trade or trade someoneelse like him and keep him. Just another good player for a deeper roster, if Nylander isint good or trade Nylander and that asset isint good.
I am more interested in Kubalik being a top 6 player, I think hes better then Kahun and could be. Nylander is a maverick, hes dangerous. There shount be anything wrong with these guys being top 6 or 9 and having a stacked top 9. It doesnt have to be textbook if were that loaded.
Rusty, thats why that player from michigan a few yrs ago. Who I forgot name already. Looked like he could be good because of good college numbers but he was a classic Michigan dud.
Barratt has the right kind of attitude. I got a good feeling about Barratt.
He has thrussels.
Unless Strome is traded, 77 is playing RW in top 6. Once 77 is established I like the pairs like how we did the big 4 and Saad.
Then we got 20.
Same thing here now.
Then we get 77
Barratt was banged up a bit in 2nd 40 games of yr.
Good thoughts on Caufield and other perspectives.
Mo 40 games is a full year for Ncaa.
I mean 2nd half, when I put 40.
Tyler Motte. He was also on a line with Kyle Connor and Jt Compher. Sort of like my argument against rating Caufield too high.
Rusty, I agree with everything you said, except I believe Boqvist has twice as much talent as any other Blackhawks defenseman. He did his time in Juniors and dominated (scoring 4 goals in one game) 30 in all. So, bring him up! He’ll get burned a few times, but it is nearly a certainty that he’ll burn the other team back more. Sure, he lacks NHL experience. However, if you don’t let him play this year, he will STILL lack NHL experience 12 months further into the future. Just my opinion. Good job doing your homework though.
The first time the Blackhawks play the Leafs this year will be an intensity check for the Hawks. The Leafs made it a mission to hurt Kirby Dach during the Traverse City tournament. That thuggery might have just cost Dach the first year of his career. The Hawks first meeting with this team had better be rough, wild and fraught with hard hits. For instance, let’s see if Toronto appreciates Marner being cartwheel checked into his own bench.