Alex Vlasic Is Oozing Confidence in Camp, and the Blackhawks Are Taking Notice

As I covered the Blackhawks’ final leg of the 2021-22 season, there wasn’t much to cling to in terms of the standings. But with a rebuild looming, I was able to focus on some of the players who might be here when the dust finally settled. One of those guys was Alex Vlasic, who made his NHL debut in March after wrapping up his senior season at Boston University.

Vlasic’s first month with the Blackhawks was a blur for the rookie, who admitted that the NHL game was far faster than he imagined. But I remember a performance he had in late April against the Flyers where Vlasic looked like things might be slowing down a bit for him.

Vlasic logged 23 shifts (16:10 of ice time total) and led the Blackhawks in ice time during that night’s first period. He also got three shots off and looked the part of an NHL defenseman — specifically, he started to recognize better while formulating and executing a plan, rather than delivering that deer-in-the-headlights look we saw from him during his first month of pro hockey.

What was arguably his best performance of the season came on the heels of his worst performance, when he looked lost against the San Jose Sharks on a west coast trip before the final homestand of the season. I went back to a story on that game to find this quote from Vlasic after the Philadelphia performance:

“I think just playing a little bit more, getting more comfortable, whether it’s with my teammates or even in practice, just getting a feel for the speed of the game, and the more games you get, the more comfortable you get with it, and I think that’s been a big part.”

Just as Vlasic’s performance in that Flyers game stuck out to me as a big moment for the 20-year-old defenseman, his performance in the development camp has been one of the most impressive of the group.

After today’s practice, I asked Vlasic if he feels like things have come more into focus for him since his debut last March, and Vlasic confirmed what my eyes were telling me.

“Yeah, for sure, I do feel a lot more comfortable,” Vlasic said. “I think it also just comes from skating with Brian Keane, our skills coach. He has a lot of good drills for me to do in the offseason, and those have been paying off, but yeah definitely getting used to the speed. I feel myself getting more and more comfortable.”

Not only does Vlasic feel more comfortable, but he’s also exuding that confidence, and the coaching staff and development team are taking notice.

Player Development chief Mark Eaton called Vlasic one of the more impressive performers in camp this week on Wednesday and mentioned that he’s taken a leadership role among the prospects in camp.

“Vlasic coming off of the end of the season playing 15 games in the NHL, has really taken on a leadership role here,” said Eaton.

When asked about Eaton’s comments, Vlasic said that he remembers being the younger guy at one of these camps, so he made it a point to serve as a leader for the prospects in attendance this week.

“It’s mostly younger guys, and I had one before where I was kind of a younger guy, so I know a little bit more than most of the people coming in. I know how things work around here, so I just kind of wanted to make people feel a little bit more comfortable and give them some direction in terms of what the normal things to do around here are.”

Today, alone, Vlasic was one of the most noticeable skaters on the ice. He beat goalie prospect Drew Commesso with ease for a goal on a two-on-zero drill early in practice and then delivered a nifty pass to Landon Slaggert for a goal in a three-on-three drill.

Kyle Davidson and the Blackhawks decided at the end of the season not to have Vlasic join the Rockford IceHogs in their Calder Cup Playoff run, opting instead to give Vlasic a full offseason after playing his final collegiate season and then immediately joining the Blackhawks down the stretch.

Turns out there was a little more to that as Vlasic admitted that he was dealing with a minor groin injury down the stretch, so the decision to shut it down after the Blackhawks season was welcomed.

“It’s been really good,” Vlasic said. “Last season, I was kind of battling a groin injury for a little bit, so this offseason has been nice to kind of get into the gym every single day, put on a good amount of weight, and just really focus on the physical aspect of my game.”

Vlasic says that he’s feeling good now though and he’s focused on putting on a little more weight and muscle while working on making his game a little bit faster with the puck before the training camp opens up sometime in September.

“I just think keep doing what I’m doing. Put on a little more weight, finish off the muscle I need to put on, and keep doing some on-ice drills like quick retrievals to just try to make my game a little bit faster with the puck.”

New assistant coach Kevin Dean – who spent much of the last decade working for the Bruins – has been tasked with the defenseman here at camp and moving forward for the Blackhawks, so I asked him today what his early impression of Vlasic was.

“Big kid that can skate really well,” Dean said. “I’ve watched some of his games from last spring when he came out of BU. He seems to have composure with the puck. He skates well for a big guy. That’s a good start. A big guy who can skate is great, and if he’s got the composure to make some plays even better, he seems to have those ingredients. 

Dean echoed Vlasic’s comments that more weight and muscle will need to be developed before Vlasic can begin to reach his ceiling, but Dean said that will come naturally with age.

“I’m sure we’re going to have to work with him on some strength issues, but that’s going to come as he becomes a man in his mid-twenties, he’ll get stronger.”

Dean said they wouldn’t have a good idea of what Vlasic’s ceiling might look like for another year or two, but the start to the Wilmette native’s career looks pretty promising from where I stand.

written by

Patrick grew up in Chicago's Bridgeport and Garfield Ridge neighborhoods before moving to the Western Suburbs of Chicago before eventually relocating to the Las Vegas area with his family in 2023. He started with Bleacher Nation in 2021 and has spent time as a Staff Writer and on the Chicago Blackhawks beat. He is currently a writer and editor at Bleacher Nation covering the Chicago Bears and the NFL at large and the author of the Bleacher Nation Newsletter. Patrick is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA).

more blackhawks news

Calder Cup Playoffs, IceHogs Debuts, Goalies, College Prospects, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Hey, you know what's fun? Playoff hockey. And you know who's playing playoff hockey this week? The Rockford IceHogs! They played their final game of the 2023-24 regular season last night and won it in fabulously dramatic fashion on a...

Who Are Some Potential Free Agent “Identity” Forward Targets for the Blackhawks??

The 2023-24 regular season is in the books. The Blackhawks are coming off a historically bad season that was filled with significant injuries to players who had high hopes coming into the season. When general manager Kyle Davidson spoke with...

Let’s Watch All Four of the Blackhawks’ First Career Goals From This Season

Six players made their NHL debut for the Chicago Blackhawks this past season: Connor Bedard, Kevin Korchinski, Louis Crevier, Landon Slaggert, Ethan Del Mastro and Frank Nazar. Four of those six rookies found the back of the net for the...

Turning the Corner to Competitive Hockey, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

"Previous to this year, we finished third last. This year, we finished second last. That can't happen again. We need to start moving up and onward." -- Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson. The Chicago Blackhawks cleaned out their lockers on...

Playoffs Begin, Locker Clean Out, Summer Thoughts, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

The 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs begin today. It's the most exciting time of year for 16 cities in the NHL because every one of them -- yes, even the Islanders and Capitals -- have a chance to win it all....

2024 NHL Mock Draft: Stanley Cup Playoffs Begin! Two Full Rounds!

Okay, hockey fans! The 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs are upon us. The crazy ride to the end of the regular season had us on the edge of our seats until the final days of the regular season, but now we...

Stanley Cup Playoffs: First Round Picks & Predictions

It's time for the best postseason in all of professional sports - the Stanley Cup Playoffs! With first-round matchups set to get started this weekend, our esteemed panel (Tab and Matt) decided to take a stab at a few predictions...

NHL Notes: Utah Gets Their Team, Stanley Cup Playoff Schedule, Kucherov Makes History, More

The NHL regular season is in the books! That means it's time for the best postseason in all of professional sports - the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Before those get underway this weekend, let's go around the NHL one more time...

Bold Accountability: How Did I Do with My Preseason Blackhawks Predictions?

The Chicago Blackhawks season is over. Finished. We can walk away, wash our hands, take a long nap and come back to it in a few days. But there's one thing I always like to do once the season comes...

Lukas Reichel Will Play for Rockford, Not Germany

Blackhawks head coach Luke Richardson was asked before the regular season finale if forward Lukas Reichel would play for Germany at the upcoming IIHF World Championship, or if he was headed to Rockford to join the IceHogs for their playoffs....

Latest News

Knicks vs. 76ers: Start Time, Streaming Live, TV Channel, How to Watch

In Game 2 of the opening round of the NBA Playoffs, the New York Knicks will go up against the Philadelphia 76ers.The Knicks will seek another victory over the 76ers after a 111-104 win on Saturday. Jalen Brunson led the...

Washington Commanders Draft Picks: Full List of NFL Draft Selections

The Washington Commanders have the number 2 overall picks in the 2024 NFL Draft and will likely select a quarterback. What other picks does Washington have? Check out the complete list of Commanders draft picks for 2024. More: Get awesome...

Pirates vs. Brewers Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats & Best Bets – Monday, April 22, 2024

The Milwaukee Brewers (14-6) will put their four-game win streak to the test when they visit the Pittsburgh Pirates (11-11) Monday at 6:40 PM ET on BSWI. Oddsmakers consider the Pirates to be -145 favorites, while the Brewers are +123...

Braves vs. Marlins Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats & Best Bets – Monday, April 22, 2024

A pair of division rivals take the field Monday when the first-place Atlanta Braves (14-6) host the fifth-place Miami Marlins (6-17). Sportsbooks favor the Braves (-209) for the contest, which starts at 7:20 PM ET on BSSO.Bryce Elder gets the...

Phillies vs. Reds Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats & Best Bets – Monday, April 22, 2024

The Philadelphia Phillies (14-8) are -123 favorites to extend their six-game win streak when they face the Cincinnati Reds (12-9), winners of three in a row. The game begins Monday at 6:40 PM ET on BSOH, live from Great American...

Tigers vs. Rays Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats & Best Bets – Monday, April 22, 2024

Amed Rosario (13 games) will look to add to his hitting streak when the Tampa Bay Rays (12-11) and Detroit Tigers (12-10) meet Monday at 6:50 PM ET, live on BSSUN from Tropicana Field. Amed Rosario and the Rays are...

Blue Jays vs. Royals Probable Starting Pitchers – April 22

The Kansas City Royals (13-9) begin a four-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays (12-10) with a Monday matchup at Kauffman Stadium. First pitch is at 7:40 PM ET.The probable starters are Yusei Kikuchi (1-1) for the Blue Jays and...

Cardinals vs. Diamondbacks Probable Starting Pitchers – April 22

The Arizona Diamondbacks (11-12) kick off a three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals (9-13) with a Monday meeting at Busch Stadium. First pitch is at 7:45 PM ET.This contest's pitching matchup is set, as the Cardinals will send Lance...

Twins vs. White Sox Probable Starting Pitchers – April 22

The Chicago White Sox (3-18) carry a three-game losing streak into a road contest against the Minnesota Twins (7-13) at 7:40 PM ET on Monday.The probable starters are Chris Paddack (0-1) for the Twins and Jonathan Cannon for the White...

DeRozan & White are Awards Finalists, An Ugly Ten Year Playoff Resume, and Other Bulls Bullets

The week has begun with zero Chicago Bulls games on the calendar. And that's a good thing! Without a second-straight Play-In Tournament loss, I highly doubt we get anything near the kind of press conference Arturas Karnisovas delivered this weekend....

more blackhawks news