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Ranking the Chicago Blackhawks prospect pool (January edition)

By Pierce Stephenson
Chicago Blackhawks
Chicago Blackhawks / Patrick McDermott/GettyImages
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Inspired by all the prospect rankings for NHL organizations and the entry draft that have been released in the past week or so, I’m going to be completely original and do my own ranking of the Chicago Blackhawks prospects.

*Spoiler alert, the cupboard is very bare.*

I hope to do this every 3 months and see who will rise, who will fall, as well as who will join the list. The next one will be in April and there’s a possibility the Blackhawks may acquire some prospects at the trade deadline. The one after that would be in July when the entry draft is completed with all the new draftees.

My requirement to be a part of this list is you have to be under the age of 23 and have not played 25+ games in one NHL season. Ian Mitchell wouldn’t be eligible as he just turned 23 last week and played 38 games in the 2020-21 NHL season.

Despite not being 23 yet, both Philipp Kurashev and MacKenzie Entwistle have played 25+ games in one NHL season, the latter of which just played his 25th game this year on Saturday.

Also, instead of nitpicking who should be at number 4 or 5 on the list, I’m going to place the prospects in tiers. The tiers go as follows.

TIER 1 - Franchise player (ex. Connor McDavid)

TIER 2 - Elite/top of the lineup player (ex. Alex DeBrincat)

TIER 3 - Top six forward/top four d-man (ex. Kirby Dach)

TIER 4 - Middle of the lineup player (ex. Brandon Hagel)

TIER 5 - Fringe/bottom of the lineup player (ex. MacKenzie Entwistle)

TIER 6 - Long-shot (ex. Reese Johnson)

Without further ado, here are the Blackhawks prospect pool rankings!

Chicago Blackhawks TIER 1 - N/A

The Blackhawks don’t have a franchise prospect and wouldn’t even have a chance at getting one until the 2023 draft if they won the draft lottery and lucked into one of Connor Bedard or Matvei Michkov. Tier 1 prospects are rare around the NHL in general.

Chicago Blackhawks TIER 2 - N/A

The Blackhawks don’t have an elite/top of the lineup player either. Like tier 1, if the Blackhawks do win a lottery spot in the 2022 draft, someone like Shane Wright would be in tier 2. The lack of any high-end prospects in this organization is very concerning.

Chicago Blackhawks TIER 3 - Lukas Reichel

Lukas Reichel, 19 YO C/LHW (Rockford IceHogs, AHL)

It’s unanimous that Lukas Reichel is considered the number one prospect in the Blackhawks organization. The German forward has 12 goals and 12 assists for 24 points in 23 games with Rockford. To me, Reichel is the only prospect who I think will be a top six forward at the NHL level. He really has underrated dynamic skill and speed to his game that’ll help him produce offense in Chicago.

Chicago Blackhawks TIER 4 - Nicolas Beaudin, Drew Commesso, Jakub Galvas, Wyatt Kaiser, Alec Regula, Landon Slaggert, Arvid Soderblom

Nicolas Beaudin, 22 YO LHD (Rockford IceHogs, AHL)

Being a former first round pick from 2018, Nicolas Beaudin hasn’t progressed the way this organization and fans have hoped. He isn’t ready for the NHL, he also hasn’t really found his footing at the AHL level, whether that’d be his defensive game, or his production with just 8 points in 28 games with Rockford. All this being said, Beaudin is only 22. Defensemen do take longer to develop than forwards and the Blackhawks don’t have to rush him.

Drew Commesso, 19 YO G (Boston University, NCAA)

Since being picked 46th overall in 2020, Drew Commesso has posted a .915 save percentage in 33 NCAA games with Boston University and will now represent the U.S. at the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics. Admittedly, I’m not a good goalie evaluator whatsoever, but looking at his statistics and athletic abilities, it’s hard not to be excited with the great progress Commesso has made before the age of 20.

Jakub Galvas, 22 YO LHD (Rockford IceHogs, AHL) 

I was really impressed by Jakub Galvas’ brief stint in Chicago after him seemingly coming out of nowhere. He showed great poise with the puck and was able to make smart decisions under pressure. The advanced stats certainly lined up with the eye test.

Wyatt Kaiser, 19 YO LHD (Minnesota-Duluth, NCAA)

To me, Wyatt Kaiser plays the way a modern NHL shutdown defenseman should. He isn’t a huge body at 6 feet and 172 pounds, but he uses his skating, agility, as well as stick-work to his advantage and kill plays. Despite not having mind-blowing offensive stats, Kaiser is also great at making that first pass and moving the puck out of the defensive zone.

Alec Regula, 21 YO RHD (Rockford IceHogs, AHL)

It’s hard to look at Alec Regula and not be intrigued by the size and skill set he brings. A big, right-handed shot defenseman with some offensive flair. Regula got a brief taste of the NHL last year, playing 3 games, and has put up 12 points in 18 games with Rockford this year.

Landon Slaggert, 19 YO C/LHW (Notre Dame, NCAA)

Landon Slaggert has really grown on me as a prospect. Slaggert plays a game reminiscent of Brandon Hagel because he brings that 110% effort every shift. He’s able to get to lots of loose pucks with his speed and has the ability to outmuscle opponents along the boards to fight for pucks.

Arvid Soderblom, G (Rockford IceHogs, AHL)

Though he played in Sweden his whole life up until this season, Arvid Soderblom has transitioned to the North American game quite well. Soderblom has a .914 save percentage on a very poor defensive team in 12 games with Rockford. I also thought he looked calm and poised in his first 2 NHL games with Chicago.

Chicago Blackhawks TIER 5 - Nolan Allan, Evan Barratt, Colton Dach, Ethan Del Mastro, Mike Hardman, Jalen Luypen, Isaak Phillips, Michal Teply, Alex Vlasic

Nolan Allan, 18 YO LHD (Prince Albert Raiders, WHL)

I’ve made my point clear on what I think about the Nolan Allan pick and the rest of the 2021 draft. Not much upside. That being said, Allan is really good at closing plays off and being that low-event player. The Blackhawks don’t have to rush him at all and can let him take however long he needs to develop.

Evan Barratt, 22 YO C/LHW (Rockford IceHogs, AHL)

With how he performed in the NCAA and in his first season with Rockford, it really looked like Evan Barratt was gonna be someone who got a call up to Chicago this season. Things haven’t quite worked out that way, as Barratt is under half a point per game with the IceHogs.

This will also be the only time he’s be featured on this list as he turns 23 on February 18. It’ll be interesting to see if Barratt gets a chance with the Blackhawks as he does have that playmaking ability to add some depth scoring.

Colton Dach, 19 YO C/LHW (Kelowna Rockets, WHL)

Colton Dach might have the highest upside of anyone from the 2021 class, though that isn’t necessarily saying much. Colton has that big frame like his brother Kirby does, though he’s more of a shoot first guy as opposed to pass first. If he’s able to put his size and skill together, as well as be more consistent (sound familiar?),  Colton Dach is someone who could move up this list in the future.

Ethan Del Mastro, 19 YO LHD (Mississauga Steelheads, OHL)

Similar to Nolan Allan, not much offensive upside, but he has a big 6’4” frame, skates and defends quite well. 

Mike Hardman, 22 YO LHW (Rockford IceHogs, AHL)

Mike Hardman is your prototypical fourth liner who throws huge hits and can chip in for the odd goal. Not sure if there’s much growth to his game, though the Blackhawks signed him to a two-year contract with 800k per year, which could turn out to be an underrated deal for a depth forward. This is the only time Hardman will be featured on this list as he turns 23 on February 5.

Jalen Luypen, 19 YO C/LHW (Edmonton Oil Kings, WHL)

I had to throw Jalen Luypen in the fifth tier as someone who’s from Edmonton. Picked as an overager in 2021, I’ve been impressed by what he’s done this season on a stacked Oil Kings team. The Blackhawks are hoping he’s another Brandon Hagel type player and there are certainly some similarities there.

Isaak Phillips, 20 YO LHD (Rockford IceHogs, AHL)

Isaak Phillips has already played 50+ games in the AHL and 2 games in the NHL as just a 20 year old defenseman. That’s very impressive, especially for a fifth round pick. While I don’t think there’s much of an offensive game with Phillips, he’s shown a good amount of poise, skating, and defensive ability at the pro level so far.

Michal Teply, 20 YO RHW (Rockford IceHogs, AHL)

Michal Teply has finally managed to start producing in Rockford with 5 goals and 4 assists in his last 10 games. He has the size, shot, and playmaking ability. It was just a matter of putting it all together. And we’re starting to see glimpses of it.

Alex Vlasic, 20 YO LHD (Boston University, NCAA)

Alex Vlasic hasn’t really planned out how the Blackhawks probably wanted him to when they picked him 43rd overall in 2019. While Vlasic has that 6’6” frame and skating ability, I question his offensive abilities and decisions with the puck.

Breaking down who is easily the Blackhawks MVP of the season. dark. Next

Chicago Blackhawks TIER 6 (AKA, the rest) - Dominic Basse, Stanislav Demin, Josh Ess, Taige Harding, Connor Kelley, Michael Krutil, Niklas Nordgren, Jakub Pour, Antti Saarela, Victor Stjernborg, Jake Wise, Chad Yetman

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