This week, the Chicago Blackhawks are holding their annual prospect camp at MB Ice Arena. Now that we’re two days into it, I’ll give you some insight into what you may have missed and — more importantly — what to look for in the coming days.
If you haven’t been able to make your way out to MB Ice Arena yet, do it. Practices kick off with skating drills — not entirely the most entertaining thing in the world — but quickly get into entertaining odd-man rushes, two on two battles and other genuinely entertaining drills.
Though development camp has been undoubtedly entertaining thus far, there’s a reason I’m watching it. And, more importantly, there’s a reason you’re reading about it.
So, here we go.
There’s been flashes of talent from every single prospect on the ice. If that weren’t true, we’d all have some major bones to pick with Stan Bowman and our scouts. While everyone’s shown some amount of promise, I’m going to start by breaking down two specific players who’ve impressed through the first two days.
The Chicago Blackhawks drafted Wise 69th overall in the third round of the 2018 draft. Initially, he was thought of as a potential top-ten draft pick, but injuries prevented him from living up to those expectations. He’s 5’10, 195 pounds.
Last year, he totaled 11 goals and 32 assists in 38 games for the U.S. U18 National Team. It helped him jump back up to 52nd on TSN’s prospect rankings.
After watching him for two days, I can see exactly why Wise was projected as a potential top-ten pick before. During drills, his hands were on full display as he could quickly deke away from defenders and was able to come away with the puck consistently during board battles.
He’s known for his playmaking ability and it was on full display during odd-man rush drills. However, I was more impressed with his scoring ability. He buried the puck on back to back 2 on 1 drills- going bar-down once.
More from Analysis
- Blackhawks: Three Noticeable Improvements in Comeback Win vs Blues
- Blackhawks: Key Takeaways from 3-2 win over the Blues
- Blackhawks: Grading Connor Murphy and a position comparison
- Blackhawks: Shuffling the lines to try and spark offense at 5 on 5
- These Lineup Changes could Solve the Blackhawks’ Scoring Problem
Above all the offensive talent, Wise looks like he’s straight up outworking the other guys out there. He holds himself accountable and looked noticeably upset with himself when he would make mistakes. His demeanor during camp has reminded me a bit of a young Jonathon Toews (you know, Captain Serious). With his work ethic and raw talent, I’m excited to see what he’s able to accomplish down the road.
I can confidently say that after watching two days of Henri Jokiharju at development camp, it isn’t hard to tell why the 19-year old put up 71 points in 63 games last year. (For a deeper background on Jokiharju, check the story here).
Jokiharju’s passes are crisp. His vision and decision making (offensively) are absolutely there. Additionally, Henri was able to go tape to tape a handful of times to connect for some really beautiful passes. He has the potential to be able to create some breakout rushes. Furthermore, with a one-timer like this, it isn’t hard to imagine him quarterbacking the power play (which desperately needs help).
Here’s another video of him leading a 2 on 1 and electing to keep it rather than pass. Spoiler Alert: it worked out pretty well for him.
So far, Jokiharju has lived up to the hype surrounding him. He looks fluid with the puck (he didn’t lose it once during the skating drills). Offensively, he doesn’t try and do too much. When carrying the puck he looks calm and ready to pull the trigger at any moment.
Da Windy City
However, through two days I’m not completely sold on his defensive ability. Though his defensive drills have been limited, he doesn’t stand out nearly as much on that end of the ice. Keep in mind, Henri is an offensive-defenseman for a reason.
With that being said, here’s a pretty slick poke check from him during the two on two rush drills.
Stay tuned over the next few days for updates on these guys as well as Adam Boqvist, Nicolas Beaudin, Blake Hillman, Joshua Ess and more.