Welcome to another summer of Blackhawks’ Future Friday. In this weekly column, we explore some of the prospects in the Blackhawks’ system, and see how far they’ve come in the past year, as well as discuss their future with the club. This Friday, we look at a prospect that made his AHL debut this season, and surprised many with his rapid progress: Mark McNeill.
McNeill became a Blackhawk at the 2011 NHL Draft, when Stan Bowman selected him in the first round, 18th overall.
After being a first-round selection of the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders in the 2008 Bantam Draft, McNeill went on to play his rookie season in 2009-10, putting up 9 goals and 24 points in 68 games.
Heading into his draft year with the Raiders, McNeill stepped up, exploding for 32 goals and 81 points in 70 games. He led the Raiders to the playoffs that season, scoring 5 points as Prince Albert fell in the first round in 5 games. McNeill was also a part of the CHL’s top prospects game, playing for team Cherry.
After being drafted by the Blackhawks, McNeill returned to PA for his third season of Junior hockey, finishing with 71 points in 69 games. He joined the Rockford IceHogs for seven games at the end of the season, but failed to record a point.
McNeill began his final season with the Raiders in 2012-13, finishing with 67 points as the Raiders made it back to the playoffs. He was a late addition to Team Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championships, after injuries; and played in a 13th forward role at the tournament. In 7 games with Rockford he went without a point, with a -1 rating.
McNeill began his professional career this past season, appearing in 76 games for the IceHogs, finishing with 18 goals and 37 points. McNeill was one of the ‘Hogs offensive leaders through the start of the season, but cooled off by Christmas.
McNeill is a skilled mind on top of an able body, and is among many young forwards in the Blackhawks’ system with an offensive touch to back up a well-rounded game. Although more time will be needed for McNeill to develop his game and his body to the NHL level, he could have an outside chance at an extended look at Blackhawks’ training camp this season.
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