Who's In, Who's Out: Chicago Blackhawks 2021 Prospect Pyramid (Part II)

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Who’s In, Who’s Out: Chicago Blackhawks 2021 Prospect Pyramid (Part II)

Chicago Blackhawks

Yesterday we introduced you to the idea of the 2021 Chicago Blackhawks Prospect Pyramid. A ranking system for the ages, this will be the definitive look at how the current Blackhawks prospect system stacks up as we head in to the 2021-22 season.

A few parameters to remember heading into looking at who will be in the prospect pool for this year’s first installment of the pyramid: players must be 24-years-old or younger at the start of the 2021-22 season (October 12, 2021) AND have played fewer than 90 NHL games in their careers. Going through the current system of both signed and unsigned players, here’s who is in and who is out of the prospect pool.

Who’s Out (7)

•   Alex DeBrincat
•   Dylan Strome
•   Caleb Jones
•   Adam Gaudette
•   Victor Ejdsell
•   Max Shalunov (Apologies to Scott Powers)
•   Ivan Nalimov

There were just a few players to note that will not be in the pool based on age and the games played requirements. While continuously referred to as “prospects,” former draft picks Ivan Nalimov and Max Shalunov are no longer young enough be prospects. Players currently in the organization who met the age requirement, but did not meet the games played requirement were Strome, Gaudette, Caleb Jones, and DeBrincat, although Jones just barely missed the cut with 93 games played in his NHL Career. As for Victor Ejdsell, I’m not even sure why he is still listed as a Blackhawks prospect (I know they still technically hold his rights), but that guy is never coming back to Chicago.

Forwards (28)

•   Kirby Dach
•   Alex Nylander
•   Evan Barratt
•   Landon Slaggert
•   Michal Teply
•   Colton Dach
•   Matej Chalupa
•   Cam Morrison
•   Philipp Kurashev
•   Brandon Hagel
•   Jalen Luypen
•   Mike Hardman
•   Henrik Borgström
•   Artur Kayumov
•   Reese Johnson
•   Lukas Reichel
•   Niklas Nordgren
•   Andrei Altybarmakyan
•   MacKenzie Entwistle
•   Jake Wise
•   Chad Yetman
•   Jakub Pour
•   Ryder Rolston
•   Antti Saarela
•   Parker Foo
•   Victor Stjernborg
•   Josiah Slavin
•   Ilya Safanov

Some of these names Blackhawks fans will be very familiar with, some you will think I made up. But I can assure you, every player listed here is very much real and very much eligible to be included in the 2021 Blackhawks Prospect Pyramid.

Although not every forward here is going to be listed in our next post with the actual pyramid put together, there’s a lot of decent talent and potential in here. Chicago’s forwards group is probably the best of the three position groups in the prospect system.

Defensemen (18)

•   Ian Mitchell
•   Wyatt Kalynuk
•   Isaak Phillips
•   Alec Regula
•   Nicolas Beaudin
•   Riley Stillman
•   Slava Demin
•   Josh Ess
•   Nolan Allan
•   Ethan Del Mastro
•   Connor Kelley
•   Wyatt Kaiser
•   Chad Krys
•   Jakub Galvas
•   Taige Harding
•   Louis Crevier
•   Michael Krutil
•   Alex Vlasic

Not far behind the forward’s group as far as talent and depth goes is the defensive group. It’s crazy to think that at one point this positional group for the Blackhawks included Adam Boqvist, Nicolas Beaudin, Ian Mitchell, and Henri Jokiharju at the same time. But things change, which we’ll talk about in a second.

Goaltenders (3)

•   Dominic Basse
•   Arvid Söderblom
•   Drew Commesso

Of the three positional groups in the system, the Blackhawks don’t have much depth at the goaltending position. Really across the organization, the depth of the goaltending group is nothing to jump for joy over, outside of the one year that Chicago will get out of Marc-André Fleury this season.

There’s this sense around the Chicago Blackhawks that Stan Bowman is great at drafting every summer. That’s false.

The idea, rather, is that the Blackhawks scouting department (Bowman included) is great at identifying talent in the NHL Draft. But what is more important than just identifying and drafting talent, is developing that talent. That’s where the Blackhawks have pretty much failed for the better part of the last decade under Bowman’s tenure as General Manager and President of Hockey Operations.

The Blackhawks have drafted players like Phillip Danault, Teuvo Teravainen, Kevin Hayes, Henri Jokiharju, and Adam Boqvist, and they have either not played for the organization or their time with Chicago was too short to develop into any kind of impact player, but most have gone on to become upper-tier players or superstars with other clubs. Yes, I understand they just traded Boqvist, but I feel like that will turn out to bite the Blackhawks in the near future as I felt Boqvist was trending in the right direction to reach his potential.

This is also not yet mentioning the handful of years in which the Blackhawks have completely whiffed on NHL Drafts like in 2012 (outside of Teravainen), 2014 (outside of Nick Schmaltz), 2015, and 2016 (outside of Alex DeBrincat).

Even the Alex DeBrincat pick in the second-round of the 2016 NHL Draft should be viewed less as an accomplishment by the Blackhawks and more of a failure by just about every other NHL franchise. Yes, the Blackhawks made the most of the “risk” they took on a player like DeBrincat, but had he been three inches taller, Chicago would have never had him in the first place.

When you look at the current roster for Chicago, not much of it has been built through the draft. You still have Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, of course, but those two came from Dale Tallon’s tenure with Chicago. You also have DeBrincat, Dach, and Kurashev up front, but that’s where the list ends. The defensive rotation that one might expect to see for the Blackhawks this season all were either acquired or signed as free agents. Every goaltender under contract that the Blackhawks have was acquired or signed as a free agent, too. This is why there is as much, if not more importance on the development of your prospects, rather than just on drafting raw talent.

Most of these prospects listed for the pyramid were draft picks by Chicago, but there are some like Brandon Hagel and Wyatt Kalynuk, for example, who were signed or acquired via trade into the organization. The Blackhawks will need most of these players to pan out and reach their potentials because as time goes on, the top-tier talent that used to populate the NHL roster for Chicago just a few years ago, will have aged out of the league.

Author: Mario Tirabassi

Mario Tirabassi is a writer for Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Mario_Tirabassi.