There’s no doubt that the Chicago Blackhawks have a sturdy prospect camp on the rise. With plenty of names — ranging from kids who can play as shutdown defensemen to high-scoring wingers to versatile forwards — the future looks bright. With that, we’re bringing you the top three Blackhawks prospects who are ready for the NHL.
3. Ivan Nalimov
Ivan Nalimov, a goaltender who was selected in 2014 as a sixth-round pick, looks promising for a Blackhawks team desperate of relief goaltenders. Nalimov plays on Salavat Yulaev Ufa in the KHL, for whom he sported a 2.59 goals-allowed average and a .927 save percentage. Prior to being traded to Salavat, Nalimov played for the Vladivostok Admiral, where he contributed a 1.98 GAA and a .942 save percentage.
With a contract in mind, we probably won’t be seeing Nalimov in the NHL for a good year, maybe even two. However, as a 23-year-old, we could be looking at the team’s next backup goaltender. Who knows, maybe he can eventually become the team’s starting goalie if we keep the rights to him down the line.
2. Tim Soderlund
It’s not easy being a 5-foot-9 winger who only weighs 163 pounds, but when you have talent like Tim Soderlund, it becomes bearable. Soderlund was selected in the fourth round by the Blackhawks in 2017. He’s a flexible option who can be used as either a center or a winger, which can work wonders for coach Joel Quenneville and his lust for line adjustments.
Soderlund most recently had nine goals and four assists in 43 games with Skelleftea AIK, in Sweden’s Elite League. As a 19-year-old in that nation’s top league, those are some promising numbers for a kid his age. Just imagine how he would do versus the 19-year-olds in the NHL right now.
1. Henri Jokiharju
This pick was easily foreshadowed. The 18-year-old star of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks has been admired and impatiently called out by fans who are dying to see him in a familiar uniform. Jokiharju was selected first overall in 2017, and has a very promising future with the Blackhawks.
The Finnish star had 12 goals and 59 assists as a defenseman on the Winterhawks this past year, locking in 71 points in 63 games. The defenseman even got to play for the Finland men’s national team at the World Championship this past month, scoring two goals.
Out of any Blackhawks prospect, Jokiharju is by far the most promising. He has the highest chance of cracking the Blackhawks’ roster this upcoming season, and they definitely need it.