2017-18 Top 10 Chicago Blackhawks Prospects
The Hawks have not had the luxury of high draft picks over the past decade and salary cap issues have forced turnover. Being an annual contender with opportunity for young players on ELC deals has allowed the Hawks to attract free agents to supplement their draft.
To their credit, the Hawks have done a good job of scouting, drafting and developing prospects. They are a model franchise in the Salary Cap era of how to constantly be replenishing the roster through the prospect pipeline.
1. Alex DeBrincat, LW/RW – Erie (OHL)
Drafted: 39th overall in the second round of the 2016 draft by Chicago
The Hawks not only got a first round talent with the 39th pick, they may have found a star player. DeBrincat dominated the OHL scoring 50 goals three years in a row. A surprise cut from the USA WJC roster raised some eyebrows, but DeBrincat went on to 65 goal and 127 point season to lead Erie to an OHL Championship and a trip to the Memorial Cup. For a small player, he lacks explosive speed but relies on his skill, and hockey sense to be effective. A year of adjusting to pro hockey may be required, but don’t rule out the possibility he plays in a top-six role, potentially replacing Artemi Panarin on a line with Patrick Kane.
2. Henri Jokiharju, D – Portland (WHL)
Drafted: 29th overall in the first round of the 2017 draft by Chicago
The last time Chicago had a first round pick was in 2014, so Jokiharju immediately places high on the depth chart. The Finnish defenseman has already come to North America, playing in the WHL last season with an impressive 48 point rookie season. Jokiharju is a good skating two-way defenseman that can carry the puck up ice well in transition to lead or join the rush. Jokiharju will return to the WHL for his post draft year and should get some experience at the WJC with Finland.
3. John Hayden, C/LW – Yale (NCAA)
Drafted: 74th overall in the third round of the 2013 draft by Chicago
Big John Hayden finished his fourth year of college hockey having a breakout season with 21 goals and 34 points in 33 games. Hayden played the final 12 regular season NHL games with the Hawks recording his first career NHL goal and four points. Hayden may not become more than a bottom six player, but he could be a highly effective role player in the immediate future.
4. Luc Snuggerud, D – Nebraska-Oklahoma (NCAA)
Drafted: 141st overall in the fifth round of the 2014 draft by Chicago
One of Chicago’s fastest rising prospects, Snuggerud had a breakout junior season in college scoring 31 points in 39 games. It was enough to get the Hawks to turn him pro and he finished the year playing 13 games in Rockford in the AHL scoring a goal and five points. The 22-year-old impressed at the Prospect tournament and may not need much more seasoning in the AHL before he is NHL ready.
5. Anton Forsberg, G – Cleveland (AHL)
Drafed: 188th overall in the seventh round of the 2011 draft by Columbus
Acquired as a key piece in the Artemi Panarin trade, Forsberg comes over from Columbus, a team with more depth and competition in goal. With the loss of Scott Darling in the off-season to Carolina, Forsberg finds himself in a far better situation in Chicago. After spending the past three seasons in the AHL, Forsberg is ready to make the jump to the NHL and should be a capable backup to Corey Crawford.
6. Dylan Sikura, C 0 Northeastern (NCAA)
Drafted: 178th overall in the sixth round of the 2014 draft by Chicago
Sikura had a breakout junior season doubling his point totals from the year prior to 21 goals and 57 points in 38 games. The Hawks tried to convince him to turn pro, but he elected to return for his senior year where he will play as an Alternate Captain. The obvious concern with Sikura is his size, particularly his weight; at 158 pounds he is very light and will need to bulk up to play at the pro level. Look for Sikura to duplicate or improve on his point totals again this season and then either turn pro or wait until August 15th free agency.
7. Graham Knott, LW – Windsor (OHL)
Drafted: 54th overall in the second round of the 2015 draft by Chicago
The big winger wrapped up his junior career with a Memorial Cup Championship with the host Windsor Spitfires after being acquired from Niagara. Looking forward he will begin his pro career in the AHL with Rockford and he projects as a solid bottom six role player in the future.
8. Chad Krys, D – Boston U. (NCAA)
Drafted: 45th overall in the second round of the 2016 draft by Chicago
Krys had a difficult season transitioning as a NCAA freshman at Boston U. The Boston Terriers were a loaded team that featured high profile and veteran players such as Charlie McAvoy, Dante Fabbro, Brandon Hickey, and Captain Doyle Somerby, who ate up most of the ice time. His difficult season was highlighted by the fact the he was not invited back to Team USA for the WJC, despite having played the year prior and still being eligible. Krys should move up the depth chart as McAvoy and Somerby have moved on, but new comers David Farrance, and Cameron Crotty should provide freshman competition. Krys needs a bounce-back season.
9. Lucas Carlsson, D – Brynas (SHL)
Drafted: 110th overall in the fourth round of the 2016 draft by Chicago
The 20-year-old has played two full seasons in the SHL now and has established himself as a reliable pro level defensive defenseman. He has good size, skating, gap control and defensive reads, but has limited offensive ability. Carlsson could be a decent bottom pairing depth defenseman.
10. Alexandre Fortin, LW – Rockford (AHL)
Drafted: Undrafted, signed as a free agent in 2016
Fortin was invited to training camp last year and earned himself a contract. He was returned to the “Q” where he produced a point per game exactly with 52 points in 52 games with the Huskies. Fortin will make the jump to pro this year and is expected to start in the AHL.