Blackhawks prospect camp is under ten days away and it could be much more competitive this year. Here are five thoughts on what to watch for going into camp.
Starting on July 17th and running through the 21st, Blackhawks prospects will gather in Chicago to compete in a camp that will showcase their skill and progress in their development. Every year the Blackhawks host prospect camp in July that consists of drills, team exercises, and scrimmages. Last year, Alexandre Fortin was one of the standout players who earned an invitation to training camp where he was one of the last players to be cut before deciding on the opening day roster.
Many of these players will go back to their respective junior teams, but this is an opportunity for the Blackhawks staff to get an evaluation on where the players are with their game and what they need to work on moving forward.
This year there is a lot of competition for roster spots on the Blackhawks and prospect camp is one way for a young player to show they’re worthy of consideration. Many of these players will be on the Blackhawks’ American Hockey League team, the Rockford Ice Hogs, so there is a chance we will get to see some of them on NHL ice later in the season. The uncertainty in the defensive and bottom six depth leaves me to believe that prospect camp will be just the beginning of a very competitive off-season for Blackhawks players.
Next I’d like to talk about a few thoughts heading into prospect camp.
1. Slow the Alex DeBrincat hype
All year Blackhawks fans have been hearing about
, the Blackhawks 2016 2nd round pick. He has been breaking records and winning championships with the Erie Otters the past three seasons alongside young stars like
. Just see his numbers in the Ontario Hockey League below and marvel at his three consecutive 100+ point seasons:
It seemed like every minute the Erie Otters twitter account would send out something like this:
The Alex DeBrincat hype has Blackhawks fans penciling him into the 2nd line LW spot already in mock lineups and I have one thing to say about that– the hype needs to stop!
Every year it seems like Blackhawks fans get way too excited about a young player because of their potential instead of letting them develop at their own pace. The Blackhawks have been known to let players develop and earn their time in the NHL, but they made a mistake with Nick Schmaltz.
Schmaltz wasn’t ready for the speed, pace, and competitiveness of the NHL level even though many said his skill-set would help him ease into it. Schmaltz openly admitted his stint in Rockford helped him step back and focus on fundamentals before returning to the Blackhawks and beginning to play a responsible game.
Hawks fans need to let DeBrincat play a season in the AHL with Rockford and let him play top six minutes there. If he is successful, they can give him a look in Chicago, but until then there is plenty for him to improve on. The Blackhawks current needs do not need to disrupt the development of another talented forward in the prospect pool.