We’ll finally have some hockey “games” to watch starting on Friday night. The Chicago Blackhawks and the Minnesota Wild will be participating in the Tom Kurvers Prospect Showcase starting tomorrow in St. Paul, Minnesota with a handful of practices and two exhibition games between the team’s prospects. On Tuesday morning, the Blackhawks released their prospect roster of players headed to Minnesota for the showcase.
Normally, the Blackhawks would have held a full prospect camp in late-July and that would be followed by the team participating in the Traverse City Rookie Tournament, which the Chicago prospects won back in 2017 (when they were led by Alex DeBrincat and Collin Delia). But with COVID concerns, the Blackhawks did not have a full prospect camp and instead are participating in the showcase mini-camp with the Minnesota Wild. With the camp coming so late in the summer, some European leagues have already started their seasons and NCAA programs are in session, so those players in the system you would normally see participate are unavailable.
— Mario Tirabassi (@Mario_Tirabassi) September 14, 2021
Notable Prospects missing:
• Alex Vlasic (Boston University)
• Drew Commesso (Boston University)
• Slava Demin (UMass)
• Wyatt Kaiser (Minnesota-Duluth)
• Connor Kelley (Minnesota-Duluth)
• Dominic Basse (Colorado College)
• Jake Wise (Ohio State)
• Ilya Safonov (Ak Bars Kazan)
• Artur Kayumov (Lokomotiv Yaroslavl)
• Victor Stjernborg (Växjö Lakers HC)
• Antti Saarela (Ilves)
The roster heading to St. Paul for Chicago is made up of 21 skaters and three goaltenders. 18 of the players on the prospect roster have played professional hockey within the last two seasons, with 14 of those players coming from the Rockford IceHogs’ 2020-21 roster. There’s plenty of intrigue within the Blackhawks prospect system, but with the roster limited, here are the eight prospects I’m most interested to see in action on Friday and Sunday.
• Lukas Reichel – Chicago’s 2020 first-round draft pick has had plenty of hype coming into this year’s training camp. Reichel has spent the last two seasons playing in the DEL, the German top professional league, with Eisbären Berlin. At just 19-years-old, Reichel already has experience playing against men, not just junior-level players, and has excelled in the DEL over the past two seasons. There’s a chance he’ll play his way into an NHL roster spot with the Blackhawks, but he’ll have to earn it considering the group of players that Chicago will have fighting for those top-nine forward spots.
• Nollan Allan – With the final pick of the first-round in the 2021 NHL Draft, the Blackhawks took the Saskatchewan-native in a move that set the tone for the 2021 draft class. Adding significant size on the blue-line was a priority for the Blackhawks in the past few draft classes, and Allan is a central figure to that strategy. He’ll head to the WHL following the showcase to play with the Prince Albert Raiders this season.
• Colton Dach – Another WHLer picked by the Blackhawks in the 2021 draft class, Colton is the younger brother of Kirby Dach. The name on the back of the jersey adds fuel to the fire for Colton Dach to quickly progress into an NHL-ready teenager like his older brother. That may not be the case, but the comparisons between the two, and the expectations for the younger Dach should still continue to grow as his game matures. Dach is headed to the WHL after the showcase as well, playing for the Saskatoon Blades. It will be interesting to see the battles between him and Allan this season, now having their NHL connection.
• Alec Regula – While not originally part of the strategy to get bigger on the blue-line in Chicago, Alec Regula certainly helps that cause now. He made his professional debut last season with both the Rockford IceHogs and Chicago Blackhawks after playing with the London Knights in the OHL from 2017-2020. He will likely end up in the AHL again this season, playing with or behind guys like Ian Mitchell, Nicolas Beaudin, and Isaak Phillips.
• Jakub Galvas – Another defenseman in the system that stands out and an outside-shot at cracking the NHL roster is the 22-year-old Galvas. A former fifth-round pick by the Blackhawks in 2017, Galvas has spent the last five seasons playing professionally in Europe. After skating in 118 games with HC Olomouc in the Czech Extraliga and 90 games with Jukurit in the Finnish Liiga, Galvas will make his North American professional debut this season, likely playing the entire season with the Rockford IceHogs, but don’t count him out of a chance to show that he’s not a normal “prospect” with over 200 professional regular season and playoff games under his belt already.
• Michal Teply – Another Czech prospect to look out for is forward Michal Teply. A fourth-round pick by the Blackhawks in 2019, Teply made his North American professional debut last season with the IceHogs thanks to the roster exemption that allowed CHL players to play professionally due to COVID issues. After a breakout year in 2019-20 with the Winnipeg Ice, where he led all WHL rookies in goals, assists, and points, Teply skated in 18 AHL games with five assists last season. At 20-years-old, there’s plenty of development ahead of him, and skating in the professional ranks will be his better option for this season as he is still eligible to return to the WHL. He’ll likely be playing in a top-nine role with the IceHogs this year.
• Arvid Söderblom – Signed by the Blackhawks earlier this offseason, Söderblom is another “prospect” with professional experience under his belt heading into his North American hockey debut season. He started 22 games for Skellefteå AIK in the SHL last season, totaling a 13-8-0 record with a .922 save-percentage, and a 2.03 GAA. He ranked second in the SHL in both save-percentage and GAA. With the current situation in net for the Blackhawks system, without any roster movement, Söderblom might see himself in a goaltending trio or quartet with the Rockford IceHogs at the AHL level.
• Cale Morris – Part of that possible quartet of goalies with the Rockford IceHogs would be Cale Morris. After a highly distinguished NCAA career at Notre Dame, Morris signed with the IceHogs and made his professional debut in the AHL last season, starting seven games for Rockford. With a 2-3-0 record, a .923 save-percentage and a 2.52 GAA, Morris looked capable in net at the AHL level, in a small sample size of course, behind a young and inexperienced IceHogs defensive group last season. He’s on an AHL-deal, so he could move between the AHL and ECHL, but he would be better served playing AHL minutes this season.
This is an abbreviation of what we usually would see from the Blackhawks prospects leading up to training camp, and only playing two exhibition games really won’t give you a great sense of what a player can or cannot do at this point in their development. But it’s hockey we can watch in September, so I’m going to treat it like it matters. The exhibition games are on Friday night at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. and both will be available to stream on the Minnesota Wild’s YouTube page.