Chicago Blackhawks Prospects: Projecting 2017 Defensemen
By Juliana Nikac
After being passed over in 2015, the Blackhawks selected Lucas Carlsson in the 4th round (110th overall) of the 2016 draft. Lots of teams overlooked him due to his lack of size and scoring in the Swedish Hockey League. Still, Carlsson can be a highlight-reel machine at times. He’s a 200-foot defenseman, calm and composed in his own zone. While it may seem like 11 points in 41 games isn’t good enough, the SHL is notorious for being one of the more difficult leagues to score in. Carlsson was also only playing an average time-on-ice of 15:54 per game, which typically equals that of a third-pairing defenseman.
Part of Carlsson’s troubles have been due to his size. He has a frame that can fill out, but still has to build up some muscle. Because of this, he tends to lose a lot of one-on-one puck battles along the boards in the offensive zone. Also, Carlsson also isn’t a big puck-mover, but can make significant plays at the right time. He has some offensive upside, but not a ton of it.He hasn’t been exposed to a lot of special teams, either, which makes it a little more difficult to analyze his offensive ability. The 20-year-old can make good defensive plays when necessary, as well. It’s hard to predict what Lucas Carlsson’s ceiling is, but he’s most definitely a solid player in the system for the Blackhawks.
This signing was a bit of a surprise, considering there were multiple other teams that reportedly wanted to sign Darren Raddysh to an entry-level contract. In the end, he signed an AHL deal with Rockford after putting up a career-high 81 points with the Erie Otters. He also was a point per game in the OHL playoffs. Raddysh was named OHL Defenseman of the Year for the 2016-2017 season. He also had the most points for an OHL defenseman, as well. He was overlooked early on in his career due to playing with guys like Sam Bennett, Connor McDavid, and Dylan Strome. But Raddysh is a right-handed defenseman with a ton of offensive upside. This made him very attractive to lots of teams, including the Blackhawks. He’s an exceptional puck mover at an affordable price.
The one issue with Raddysh is what he’s supposed to do: defend. He’s got some work to do when he’s fighting for the puck along the boards while defending. Creating a strong sense of where to be when battling one-on-one is a weakness of many prospective defensemen, though. It’s common, but definitely something Raddysh has to work on if he wants a shot at making the NHL. Out of all defensive prospects, I think he has the best chance of getting a spot on the blue line sooner rather than later. If he performs well during prospect camp, he could be signed to an ELC rather than just an AHL deal.