These are the top prospects for the Blackhawks following the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.
Highmore has proven he can score at the lower levels, but at 23 years old, time is running out on his chance to be effective in the NHL.
Highmore’s only opportunity in the NHL came in the 2017-18 season when he scored two goals in 13 games. Next training camp might his last chance to truly impress the Blackhawks’ brass.
Delia turned a lot of heads during his call-up while starting goaltender Corey Crawford was injured. He started out really hot in Chicago, but ended his 16 game stint with a .908 save percentage and 3.61 GAA.
During his 26 games in Rockford last season, he was very good with a .922 save percentage and a 2.48 GAA. In one season, Delia went from a complete unknown to a promising NHL goaltending prospect.
The big, 6’4” 180 lbs forward came to the Blackhawks as part of the Hossa/Hinostroza trade. He scored 57 points in 57 games for two teams in the OHL last season.
He also had five points in four games for the Guelph Storm in the Memorial Cup tournament. Entwistle looks like a very underrated piece of what seemed like a mere salary dump at the time.
Kayumov’s talent and ability to play at the highest level looks like a mixed bag. He put up 13 points in 46 games in the KHL last season, but his numbers in the lower leagues are much more impressive.
Regardless of his ability, his status in the KHL muddies the waters further. According to reports, Kayumov may finally make the jump to North America after next season.
10. Alexis Gravel
Gravel scrapes into the top 10 as a 6’3” goaltender that had an impressive run in the QMJHL for the Halifax Mooseheads last season. He is only 19 years old, but posted a .913 save percentage and 2.49 GAA in 49 games last season.
As if that weren’t enough, the big goaltender posted a .918 save percentage in four games of the Memorial Cup tournament, which led all goaltenders in the short tournament.
9. Aleksi Saarela
A side piece in the Calvin de Haan trade, Saarela had a very strong season in the AHL for the Charlotte Checkers last year. He put up 54 points in 69 games, including scoring 30 goals.
If Saarela can translate his AHL success to the NHL, it will make the trade look even more one-sided for the Blackhawks. Fun fact: the Blackhawks drafted his brother, Antti Saarela, just prior to trading for him.
8. Kevin Lankinen
Lankinen is a 6’2” Finnish goaltender that really opened eyes this year. He finally made the jump from Europe to North America. After an average start in the ECHL, Lankinen went to Rockford and posted a .910 save percentage and 2.50 GAA in 19 games.
His more impressive stretch didn’t come until after the season though; during the World Championships, Lankinen led Finland to a gold medal and posted a very impressive .942 save percentage and a 1.50 GAA. Lankinen really did well to put himself on the map this year.
7. Alex Vlasic
If the last name looks familiar, it’s probably because he’s the cousin of San Jose Sharks defenseman, Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Alex Vlasic plays a similar game as his cousin; he’s a defensive defenseman.
Some analysts projected Vlasic to go into the first round of the 2019 draft and Chicago got him in the middle of the second, so there might be some added value for the Blackhawks with that selection.
Vlasic is 6’6” which could bring some size to Chicago’s blueline in the future. With Vlasic’s defensive skills, his floor looks very high, even if his ceiling isn’t all that high. Vlasic looks like a very safe second round pick.
6. Evan Barratt
Barratt’s breakout season at Penn State University shot him up to number six on this list. The 20-year-old center put up 43 points in 32 games in the NCAA. In the early going, Barratt was leading the nation in points, but finished tied for 13th.
5. Philipp Kurashev
The 19-year-old Swiss center has been making a name for himself both in the QMJHL and internationally. After just one season, Kurashev looks like he may have been a huge bargain for the Blackhawks as a fourth-round selection.
He put up 65 points in 59 games for the Quebec Remparts in the QMJHL. Kurashev could challenge for a roster spot next season, but will likely end up in Rockford to start the season.
4. Nicolas Beaudin
One of the two defensemen Chicago drafted in the first round of the draft last year, Beaudin continues to impress with his offense from the blueline. He put up 56 points in 53 games for the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the QMJHL.
The way Beaudin plays reminds me a lot of Duncan Keith, from his one-on-one defense to the way he finds open passing and shooting lanes in the offensive zone. Beaudin has some work to do, but he looks very promising.
3. Ian Mitchell
Mitchell will return to the University of Denver next season, where he will take over as captain of the team. He has a similar build and abilities to Beaudin, but with a bit more experience.
Last season, Mitchell scored 27 points in 39 games in the NCAA. The Blackhawks are probably hoping Mitchell will turn pro and sign with them after the Pioneers’ season ends next year.
2. Adam Boqvist
At this part of the list, we’re starting to talk about elite prospects. Boqvist comes in at number two and looks like he could blossom into a great offensive defenseman.
His defending still needs work before he can be taken seriously in the NHL, but his pure offensive talent is undeniable. He scored 60 points in 54 games for the London Knights in the OHL; of those 60 points, remarkably 20 were goals.
It will be interesting to see if the Blackhawks try to develop his defense in the NHL next season after he very nearly made the team out of training camp last season.
1. Kirby Dach
The third overall pick from the 2019 NHL Draft, Dach could become an elite NHL center in the future. Dach may not have been the pick Blackhawks fans wanted, but he’s still the best prospect in the Blackhawks’ system.
He has been compared by scouts and analysts to Ryan Getzlaf; if that’s even remotely true, the Blackhawks have found themselves a big, playmaking center that can center the top line for years to come.
If the Blackhawks want to return to their postseason glory, they’ll need some of the players on this list to come through in a big way. Hopefully, the Blackhawks future becomes as bright as it seems on paper.