Projections: Blackhawks Defensive Prospects

Do we have a top 4 in the waiting?

2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Round One
2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Round One / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

The excitement that comes with a number 1 overall selection can ignite a city into a frenzy, add in a generational talent year, and an exciting forward on top of all of that... Chicago experienced this with Patrick Kane 16 years ago. One thing that is not known however is if the Blackhawks will have the blue line help that Kane (and Toews) received.

Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, and Niklas Hjalmarsson had a ton to do with Chicago winning 3 cups in 6 seasons afterall. So, what will our defensive core look like in 3-4 years? Let's take a look:

Kevin Korchinski. That's the first name everyone should be eyeing as a true top pairing offensive defenseman. I, like many, liken him to Shea Theodore of Vegas. Same size, skating ability, even their coaching they've received at similar levels all line up together. I project Korchinski to be our power play quarterback as quickly as the 24-25 season and I expect him to be skating 20+ minutes a night by the 25-26 season for the Blackhawks.

Sam Rinzel. Here is the wildcard of the entire group. He has size, skating, and projectable traits as an NHL right shot defender. He also takes bad penalties, makes turnovers, and is inconsistent at times. In short, he is young but the talent is clearly there. I believe he is going to play at least 3 years of collegiate hockey and one season in the AHL before he tries to make the NHL club. That puts him in the 2027 range for me.

Alex Vlasic. The big defensive defenseman is steady, calm, and appears ready to try and secure a full time role this season. I think pairing him with a veteran will be key to his development this year. His reach, stand up ability, and gap coverage all appear solid. While not a top pairing 20+ minutue guy, I could see Vlasic as a dependable 4th-5th defender in Chicago by the end of this upcoming season.

Wyatt Kaiser. Here is a player that I'm cheering for to have a great season. I like Kaiser as a puck moving and sure handed blue liner in the bottom 3 of our top 6. I think a strong start is needed for him to avoid being called to Rockford. Consistency will be the defining trait the staff should be looking at when evaluating his play.

Ethan Del Mastro. The big lefty has taken his game to a new level year over year for the past 3 seasons. While not a master of any one skill, Del Mastro looks like a solid bet to have a long career as a bottom pairing to 7th defender due to his size, experience, and overall preparation in a structured role. I think he is still 1.5 seasons away from getting a true look by the Blackhawks.

Isaak Phillips. Tick-tock. The clock is ticking right now as Phillips window to grab a role before the likes of the above mentioned players reach maturity. Isaak has size, decent skating, and a strong edge to his game. It's hard to see what type of player he truly is though and I think defining that this season will help the staff gauge if he is sticking around or not. Either way, I think an answer on Isaak Phillips will be known before the season is over.

Nolan Allen. The former first round pick is a reliable player on the ice. He will never be a true top pairing player, but a complementary 2nd pairing defensive counterpart to an offensively gifted player would be a good placement for Allen in my opinion. A year or 2 in the AHL is ahead for him before I think he'll be ready for the NHL speedsters he'll need to contain.

With no highly ranked defensive prospects taken in the last draft and only 7 projected NHL-talent players in the system it's hard to imagine a scenario in which Kyle Davidson doesn't target a high end prospect in the next draft class.

Sam Dickinson, Adam Jiricek, Aron Kiviharju, Artyom Levshunov, Cole Hutson, Henry Mews, Zayne Parekh, Will Skahan, Charlie Elick, and Carter Yakemchuk all appear like early 1st round talents. There will be no shortage of options to help build our future top 4. Yes, Seth Jones could still be apart of that core however it appears we are still lacking true top 4 talent outside of Kevin Korchinski at the moment.

So while it's exciting to see Bedard, Reichel, Nazar, and Moore all grow together let's not forget how we one those cups as Keith, Seabrook, and Hjalmarsson had a lot to do with it.