August 32-in-32: Chicago Blackhawks

Puneet Sharma

2023-08-09

Welcome to the August 2023 Edition of the DobberProspects 32-in-32 Series!  This month, we will be doing a deep dive into each organization, looking at their recent graduates, risers, fallers, and top 20 prospects. 

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As we approach the 2023-2024 NHL season, the Blackhawks may not have lofty expectations, yet they will be captivating to watch during their rebuilding phase. Under the guidance of Kyle Davidson and Luke Richardson, they are transitioning into a new era centered on youthful talent and skill. Recent seasons have been dedicated to acquiring top-notch young players to create a robust foundation for the team. Exciting times lie ahead in the world of NHL hockey.

Development Camp

This year the Blackhawks decided to take a different route and focus their development camp on off-ice activities as opposed to on-ice. The logic behind that decision was quite simple according to the Blackhawks brass: they simply wanted their players to rest in the off season and work on getting healthy and stronger.  Some players were participating in international tournaments and rookie camps which would put further stress to their bodies over the course of the summer.  

ForwardsDefensemenGoalies
Connor BedardNolan AllenDrew Commesso
Colton DachEthan del MastroDominic Basse
Jiri FelcmanTaige HardingAdam Gajan
Ryan GreeneWyatt Kaiser
Gavin HayesConnor Kelley
Dominic JamesKevin Korchinski
Nils JuntorpJanne Peltonen
Roman KantserovSam Rinzel
Nick Lardis
Paul Ludwinski
Jalen Luypen
Martin Misiak
Marcel Marcel
Oliver Moore
Frank Nazar
Milton Oscarson
Alex Pharand
Ryder Rolston
Antti Saarela
Samuel Savoie
Landon Slaggert
Victor Stjenborg
Aidan Thompson
Riku Tohila

The prospect pool is gradually taking shape as planned, with several players worth keeping an eye on this offseason. Frank Nazar is impressing at the 2023 World Junior Summer Showcase, while Samuel Savoie recently signed an entry-level contract with the Blackhawks. Wyatt Kaiser’s strong performance in the AHL and NHL, along with Sam Rinzel and Drew Commesso looking to become full-time AHLers this season, adds depth to the promising prospects.

Frank Nazar’s recent standout performance at the Showcase, where he scored four goals and one assist against Sweden, has garnered attention. Though Nazar plans to return to Michigan next season, a successful year there might lead to his inclusion in the Blackhawks’ roster the following year. As time progresses, players like Nazar, Savoie, Moore, Green, and Rinzel have solid opportunities to secure spots in the lineup.

Predicting the Blackhawks’ lineups will be challenging, as Richardson is likely to experiment with various combinations until he finds a successful one. However, it is reasonable to anticipate that Connor Bedard and Seth Jones will be leading the first line and first power play units at the beginning of the season and throughout. Veteran players such as Andreas Athanasiou, Nick Foligno, Ryan Donato, Taylor Hall and Corey Perry will also get a fair chance to play up the line up if things are not going according to how Richardson likes.  

On the defensive front, the team has welcomed new faces, such as Wyatt Kaiser and potentially Alex Vlasic or Isaak Phillips. Considering the one year left on Tinordi and Zaitsevs’ deals, their chances of returning next year appear to be up in the air, opening up opportunities for Vlasic, Kaiser, or Phillips to rotate through the lineup. It’s even possible that Vlasic or Phillips could earn ice time alongside Seth Jones or gain experience on the second power play unit. However, compared to the forward prospect pool, the Blackhawks’ defensive prospects may require more time to fully develop.

The current goaltending situation poses challenges ahead. Soderblom aims to take the lead as the starting goalie this year. However, they still have Petr Mrazek. Although the situation may not improve significantly, Mrazek’s experience could give him an edge at seeing majority of the starts.   Soderblom will undoubtedly make his case, though, and if all goes well there may be a chance of a possible 50/50 split (highly unlikely) between both goalies, with whoever shows the most consistency holding down the primary role. 

Graduates

Connor Bedard

Enough digital ink has been spilled on this guy. The hype is real, and his time to shine is now.

Lukas Reichel

Reichel has effectively tackled some of the challenges related to the Blackhawks’ offensive zone entries, and his chemistry with Andreas Athanasiou was clearly evident last season. In his NHL stint spanning 23 games, he showcased his prowess by registering seven goals and eight assists. During his tenure with the Icehogs (AHL), he nearly maintained a point-per-game pace, accumulating 51 points across 55 games. Reichel has been actively honing his assertiveness with and without possession. Expect him to stick in the lineup throughout the upcoming season. His development this year will be something to watch, particularly now that he will have more creative freedom and the potential opportunity to team up with Bedard.

Wyatt Kaiser

Kaiser has been a workhorse and has honed his abilities at the University of Minnesota-Duluth over the course of the past three years. While he may not have exhibited exceptional levels of productivity, he has not done anything to make his value drop either, especially in the AHL. Towards the end of the last season, he joined a few NHL games and demonstrated a level of comfort and proficiency during his brief time on the ice. Kaiser can be a strong depth player who has the keen sense to make the right play to get out of the zone.

On the Cusp

Kevin Korchinski

Kevin Korchinski’s chances of making the NHL this year are favourable, although his age poses a challenge for the Blackhawks, as they cannot send him down to the Icehogs but rather back to the WHL. Any WHL player under the age of 20 is prohibited from joining a minor pro team (in this case the Icehogs). This situation raises the question of whether it would benefit Korchinski’s game to play in a league (WHL) where he has already thrived and dominated or elevate him to the NHL level with heavily sheltered minutes and possibly less ice time. The Blackhawks are not expected win the Cup this year, so there may be some merit to allowing Korchinski to get some NHL reps in and then send him down to the WHL, where he can excel and possibly compete for a chance at the Memorial Cup one last time. The Blackhawks are certainly keen to avoid another Kirby Dach situation, where he was expected to be an offensive dynamo for the team but then that didn’t happen due to the lack of support, pressure, and possibly throwing him in to the NHL too early. He then took a hit in all aspects of his game. The organization definitely sees Korchinski as one of the cornerstone pieces to this young team and the eventual number one defenseman on the back end.

Isaak Philips / Alex Vlasic

You can think of Philips and Vlasic as interchangeable here. Both seem ready for the NHL, but it will be tough for them to find a place in the lineup. There are already prospects like Korchinski and Kaiser in the mix, which makes adding Philips and Vlasic a bit tricky. Still, despite the challenge, it’s likely that Vlasic will get more chances than Philips in the upcoming season. Both Philips and Vlasic have been developing at a similar pace, each playing roughly 20 games apiece. Philips spent most of last season with the IceHogs but did well in the NHL too, getting five points (one goal, four assists). Vlasic got one point in the NHL and 19 points in the AHL over 56 games. Both players have a good chance of making the team, and how they do in the training camp will likely decide it.

Risers

Ethan Del Mastro

Last season, Ethan Del Mastro stood out as a strong defender in the CHL. He played a key role in Team Canada’s World Junior Championship victory. This past year, he improved his offensive skills, becoming more confident in carrying the puck and leading power plays in the OHL. With all of the offensive flair on the back end, he may be asked to focus on his defensive game first.

Ryan Green

Greene is turning into a promising top two-way center for the Blackhawks. He gained a lot of trust at Boston University this past season due to his well-rounded style of play. He knows how to position himself well and is quick to reach the puck. He has had strong offensive performances but needs to be more consistent with his overall game play. He still has another one or two years until he makes the jump to the pro level. 

Cole Gutman

The Blackhawks signed Gutman last season after his four years at Denver. He did well in Rockford this year and even got to play for the Blackhawks. He just turned 24, which is a bit old for a new player, but he’ll probably start playing in the NHL next season. He could work as a potential third line centre. 

Fallers

Paul Ludwinski

Ludwinski’s season didn’t go as well as hoped for him or the Blackhawks. He got a concussion while with the Blackhawks and then sustained a lower body injury playing in the OHL. When he joined Rockford, it was revealed that the second injury was more serious than initially diagnosed. The Blackhawks believe Ludwinski will be healed and ready to go. He is signed with the Blackhawks for another year and is expected to play another season in the OHL. He has the potential to be a fast third-line centre but the Blackhawks have a lot of those already so his entry into the lineup may be difficult. 

Colton Dach

Similar to Ludwinski, Dach has had a tough time staying healthy. Between a concussion with the Blackhawks, shoulder injury with Team Canada, then getting traded to Seattle from Kelowna, he only played a total of 32 games last season. He never really managed to get off on the right foot. This could all change if he is able to play a full healthy season. 

Landon Slaggert

Slaggert is heading back to Notre Dame for his senior season in order to play with his younger brother who is a freshman and also alongside his father who is on the coaching staff at the university. Slaggert is turning 22 next year and roster spots may quickly run out by the time he makes his move over to the NHL level. Who knows where the Blackhawks organization is over the next few years and where Slaggert fits in. 

Prospect Depth Chart

The list is a combination of NHL readiness and upside.

Left WingCenterRight Wing
Lukas ReichelConnor BedardNick Lardis
Samuel SavioeFrank NazarGavin Hayes
Martin MisiakOliver MooreArtur Kayumov
Landon SlaggertCole GutmanJoey Anderson
Josiah SlavinRyan GreeneMacKenzie Entwistle
Colton DachMichal Teply
Paul Ludwinski
Left DefenseRight Defense
Wyatt KaiserSam Rinzel
Kevin KorchinskiHunter Drew
Alex VlasicAlec Regula
Isaak PhillipsMichael Krutil
Ethan Del Mastro
Nolan Allan

Goalies
Arvid Soderblom
Drew Comesso
Jaxon Stabuer

Top 20 Fantasy Prospects

This section is intended to paint a picture of the Chicago Blackhawks prospects whose current trajectory projects them making the most positive fantasy impact at the time that they reach the NHL. Arrival date and NHL certainty have been taken into consideration. However, a player’s potential upside is the most important factor in determining this list. 

  1. Connor Bedard
  2. Lukas Reichel
  3. Kevin Krochinski
  4. Oliver Moore
  5. Frank Nazar
  6. Alex Vlasic
  7. Ethan Del Mastro
  8. Isaak Phillips
  9. Drew Commeso
  10. Arvid Soderblom
  11. Sam Rinzel
  12. Ryan Greene
  13. Cole Gutman
  14. Samuel Savoie
  15. Martin Misiak
  16. Gavin Hayes
  17. Coltan Dach
  18. Aidan Thompson
  19. Paul Ludwinski
  20. Jakub Galvas

This concludes our look at the Chicago Blackhawks organization in 2023. Our previous July-32-in-32 article examines the team’s 2022 draftees, off-season acquisitions, and numerous other topics.

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