Chad Krys – Boston University (NCAA)
After a freshman year dedicated to developing the defensive side of his game, Chad Krys had a breakout year offensively for Boston University last season. He was second in scoring among defensemen (7 goals, 20 assists in 36 games) behind Nashville prospect Dante Fabbro. He’s struggled with an injury to start his junior year and missed the majority of the fall semester, but he still has 8 points in 11 games for the Terriers and is healthy again.
The 20-year-old has always been gifted offensively. His exceptional skating allows him to fly down the ice and jump on the rush. He has good vision that shows in his passing abilities, especially when he’s quarterbacking a power play. Where he’s lacked throughout his career is on the defensive side of things. He’s on the smaller side, like many of the other defensive prospects the Blackhawks have, which ails him in physical battles against opposing players.
I still think Krys has room to grow and improve in every area of his game. His upside is too good to not see him as a legit prospect for the Chicago Blackhawks. He’s probably the fifth-best defensive prospect they have and has a real shot at being on the team within in the next few years.
Jakub Galvas – HC Olomouc (Czech League)
Much like the other defensemen the Chicago Blackhawks have drafted, Jakub Galvas is a smaller guy who skates smoothly and moves the puck really well. He can be effective all over the ice. He’s not well known for being strong offensively or defensively, but he’s put up points in the Czech League with HC Olomouc. So far, he has 13 points in 30 games. Last season, he recorded 13 points in 42 games. For a younger defenseman, those are quite impressive numbers in a men’s league.
The 19-year-old had two assists for his home country in last year’s U20 World Juniors but only picked up a single assist this year for the Czech Republic. However, the team relied on him heavily on the penalty kill and he led the team in ice time in three of their five games. I watched every game he played in this tournament and while he didn’t stand out, he certainly impressed me with the little plays he made both offensively and defensively.
While being one of the lower-end prospects for the Blackhawks, Galvas has the chance to be a solid top-four defenseman in the future and with a bunch of blueliners in Chicago’s system.
Lucas Carlsson – Rockford IceHogs (AHL)
Out of all of the defensive prospects the Chicago Blackhawks have, I have been seriously impressed by the maturation of Lucas Carlsson‘s game. When they drafted him, the Blackhawks were expecting a reliable defender who could rack up some points here or there. Since he was drafted in 2016, Carlsson has evolved into a two-way blueliner who is always active in all three zones when he’s on the ice.
While he doesn’t have the high ceiling like other prospects on this list, Carlsson’s strong defensive positioning and above-average skating have allowed him to be a top-pairing defenseman in the Swedish Hockey League. Now he’s in Rockford, where he’s second among D-men in scoring (7 goals, 12 assists).
Carlsson has shown he has what it takes to play in an elite league and in North America, as his transition to the Chicago Blackhawks’ affiliate has been as smooth as anyone could’ve hoped it would be. It’ll be interesting to see if he gets a call-up to the NHL at any point this season. If he doesn’t, he will definitely be competing for a spot on the roster next year.
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Yes, things may look bad right now for the Chicago Blackhawks in terms of the blueline. However, there are so many players to be excited about that can make the roster in the upcoming years, even as early as next season. Be upset with the ways things have gone for the Blackhawks this season, but be hopeful for the future of this organization.