Blackhawks News

Chicago Blackhawks Top Prospects

By Michael Anthony Orona
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Good morning Blackhawks fans. We here at Blackhawk Up hope you had a great Holiday and New Years.

With the World Juniors having wrapped up this week (what a disappointing finish for Team USA!) we thought it’d be fun to start a new tradition! Each month we will take a look at your ‘Hawks prospects. This month we will start with my top 5! Enjoy.

Jan 4, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Teuvo Teravainen (86) warms up prior to the first period against the Dallas Stars at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

1. Teuvo Teravainen, F, Chicago Blackhawks– By almost all accounts, Teuvo Teravainen is the Chicago Blackhawks #1 prospect. With Kris Versteeg out Teravainen made his season debut four nights ago against the Dallas Stars. While he has yet to earn a point in 2 games, he has shown occasional flashes of the puck-handling and vision that sets him apart from other young players.

By-the-numbers– 33 GP- 6 G- 17 A- 23 PTS (Rockford IceHogs)

Areas of improvement– Like most young players Teravainen needs to get stronger and more familiar with the NHL’s style of play. He also must improve his defensive zone play (as evidenced by his turnover’s against Dallas). This is what Hockey’s Future has to say about Teravainen:

"“A supremely skilled forward, Teravainen has the soft hands and hockey sense to be an offensive factor every time he touches the ice. He is an explosive skater and he uses his speed well to beat defenders one-on-one and create space for his linemates. His skill set is especially effective on the power play, where he is a talented distributor and can utilize his heavy one-timer. He can also create well on the rush and make plays at high speed. His defensive zone play is not especially strong and, at 5’11 and 165 pounds, he will need to continue adding strength before transitioning across the pond. After starting his draft year at left wing, Teravainen is expected to remain at center for Jokerit.”- Hockey’s Future"

NHL Projection– Teravainen projects as an eventual top-6 winger. He compares very favorably to a young Ales Hemsky.

2. Ville Pokka, D, Rockford IceHogs– Pokka was acquired from the New York Islanders in the Nick Leddy trade. While no one wanted to see Leddy traded, Pokka is an exciting prospect that the ‘Hawks are happy to have in the organization. He combines a high hockey IQ with excellent passing and vision. He also displays a healthy level of confidence in his abilities.

By-the numbers– 29 GP- 6 G- 8 A- 14 PTS

Areas of improvement– While Pokka is very skilled in the offensive zone he needs to continue to develop his play in his own end. He also needs to improve his skating and consistency. He also could stand to get a little stronger to withstand the rigors of a full NHL season. Hockey’s Future has this take on Pokka:

"“Pokka has begun his first season in North America with Chicago AHL affiliate Rockford but both he and fellow Finland U20 teammate Teuvo Teravainen could be among the first call-ups in 2014-15. Long-term Pokka projects to being the type of strong skating, persistent defender who can also contribute to the attack.”- Hockey’s Future"

NHL Projection– During Pokka’s draft year in 2012 the staff at hockeywriters.com compared him to Andrej Meszaros, Matt Carle and Dennis Wideman. Either way Pokka has the potential to develop into a top-4 dependable defensemen.

Jun 27, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Nick Schmaltz poses for a photo with team officials after being selected as the number twenty overall pick to the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

3. Nick Schmaltz, C, University of North Dakota– Nick Schmaltz is a highly skilled, offensive forward who uses his quickness and vision to make highlight-reel plays. Currently playing for the same program that developed our current Captain (and best 2-way player in the world I might add…again. : ) ), Schmaltz brings a very attractive package of skills to the ice.

By-the numbers– 15 GP- 3 G- 12 A- 15 PTS

Areas of improvement– Schmaltz needs to develop his defensive play (noticing a trend?). He has a high enough skill level to be a good defensive player. At times he also seems to be disengaged. For a young player this is a tough stigma to shake. Bill Placzek of draftsite.com says this about Schmaltz:

"“Longer term project who is not the sum of his parts. Displays good feet, vision, hands of the high end level, but his work ethic is on the low end. Needs to be become an all around team first player who helps his team get chances, and not wait for the team around him to provide him with scoring chances.Was named to the U.S. World Junior A roster for the Junior A Challenge. Committed to North Dakota University.“- Bill Placzek"

NHL Projection– Schmaltz projects as top-6 scoring forward. With his arsenal of offensive moves and skills the ‘Hawks are hopeful he can turn into the long term answer as the #2 center.

Nov 23, 2014; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Adam Clendening (6) skates against the Vancouver Canucks during the second period at Rogers Arena. The Vancouver Canucks won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

4. Adam Clendening, D, Rockford IceHogs– Adam Clendening is ready for the NHL. Let’s just say it. In the AHL he’s scored 105 points in only 147 games while playing with an edge defensively. Were he on any other team Clendening would be in the league. But with one of the deepest and most experienced d-core’s in the league Clendening has been forced to wait longer than he’d probably like. However, he’s only an injury away from a call-up.

By-the numbers– 30 GP- 1 G- 9 A- 10 PTS

Areas of improvement– One area Clendening needs to improve is keeping his feet moving more consistently. He’s a good skater but sometimes gets caught standing in place.

NHL Projection– Clendening projects as an offensive defensemen with top-4 paring potential. He compares very favorably to Tyson Barrie of the Colorado Avalanche.

Jun 30, 2013; Newark, NJ, USA; Ryan Hartman poses for a photo with general manager Stan Bowman (left) after being introduced as the number thirty overall pick to the Chicago Blackhawks during the 2013 NHL Draft at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

5. Ryan Hartman, RW, Rockford IceHogs– Hartman is a gritty winger who displays good 2-way play and tenacity. He has a high hockey IQ and isn’t afraid to mix it up. This is what the Scouting Report says:

"“What Hartman lacks in size, he makes up for in effort. The 5-foot-11 forward isn’t the biggest guy on the ice but his quickness and explosiveness make up for that in a lot of ways. Hartman is a physical forward who is not afraid to finish checks and competes hard every shift. In addition to playing with an edge, Hartman is a capable offensive player and while not flashy, he is effective. A lack of real high-end talent and size are the obvious knocks, but Hartman projects as a pesty forward that seem to be fan favourites in the NHL.”- The Scouting Report"

By-the numbers– 36 GP- 5 G- 8 A- 13 PTS

Areas of improvement– Hartman needs to improve his strength and size. Because he is a power forward strength is very important for him to maximize his potential.

NHL Projection– Due to his grittiness and 2-way play Hartman may only top out as a 3rd line winger. However his ceiling could be as a Ryan Callahan type of player: grittiness with some scoring.

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