Blackhawks News

Chicago Blackhawks: Projecting Top Future Contributors

By Mario Tirabassi
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
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 /
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May 18, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane warms up across the center ice logo before game one of the Western Conference Final of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Los Angeles Kings at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
May 18, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane warms up across the center ice logo before game one of the Western Conference Final of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Los Angeles Kings at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports /

Goaltender 

Matt Tomkins — Tomkins made a name for himself in the Alberta Junior Hockey League with the Sherwood Park Crusaders in 2011-12. After rising through the Sherwood Park midget minor and midget Triple-A programs, Tomkins was able to go 8-11-2 with a 3.41 goals-against and .894 save percentage playing in 33 of 60 games for the Crusaders. After starting for the Crusaders in the AJHL Playoffs and helping them advance to the second round, Tomkins committed to play for Ohio State starting in 2013, in addition to being invited to the 2012 NHL Draft Combine and becoming a top-10 ranked North American goalie. The Blackhawks took their seventh-round selection, 199th overall, and used it on Tomkins ahead of his second year in the AJHL.

In his second full season in the AJHL, Tomkins led the Crusaders with 44 appearances and a 22-14-6 record with four shutouts, a 2.56 goals-against average and .924 save percentage. He led his team to another second-round playoff appearance before heading off to play for the Buckeyes. As a freshman, Tomkins started 17 games and earned the No. 1 role over then-sophomore Collin Olson. In 17 games Tomkins was 6-7-2 with a 2.78 goals-against average and .911 save percentage. Ohio State finished fourth in the Big Ten conference and reached the conference championship game before falling to the University of Wisconsin.

As a sophomore, Tomkins appeared in 14 games for the Buckeyes as fellow sophomore Christian Frey saw the bulk of the action in the starting role. He posted a 5-7-1 record with two shutouts and had a 3.25 goals-against average and .876 save percentage in his backup role.

Tomkins attended prospect camp with the Blackhawks this summer and returned to Ohio State for his junior season, in which he has split time with Frey yet again. Tomkins appeared in another 14 games, posting an identical 5-7-1 record with a 3.87 goals-against average and .888 save percentage.

In a position that has been basically neglected by the Blackhawks organization for their future needs, Tomkins is exactly what he was selected as back in 2012: a seventh-round, shoulder-shrugging “maybe” of a prospect. For that kind of talent to be the top goaltender prospect for a team like the Blackhawks is unacceptable. He is still working to fine-tune his game at the NCAA level, but can’t do that effectively as a backup, and as a junior non-starter. His size and athletic ability can only take him so far, and if the Blackhawks are serious about their netminders, they may focus on an early-round pick for a goalie prospect in the near future.

So what do you think? Who will be the future of the Chicago Blackhawks, and who do you trust the team with once the current core members hang up their skates? Let us know in the comment section!

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