How Do Our Blackhawks Prospect Rankings Differ From The Sun-Times?

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Kevin Korchinski Chicago Blackhawks NHL Draft

How Do Our Blackhawks Prospect Rankings Differ From The Sun-Times?

Chicago Blackhawks

On Saturday evening, Ben Pope at the Chicago Sun-Times shared his updated rankings of the Blackhawks’ top prospects. He noted that, with the Blackhawks’ large number of picks and how seemingly well general manager Kyle Davidson and crew did with those picks, he was able to expand his rankings to 20 this time around.

Which is great! There’s more talent in the system and it’s notably better than where the system was in recent memory. Of course we’re mindful of the cost to acquire the picks that added that higher level of skill, but more people are warming to the Blackhawks’ coming crop of talent.

As we did when The Athletic  dropped their rankings of the Blackhawks’ top prospects, it’s worth taking a minute to compare our top 20 list to Pope’s. And there are some notable differences between the BN Top 20 Blackhawks Prospects and his at the Sun-Times.

Pope writes that his “rankings are determined partially by upside and partially by NHL readiness.” Here’s Pope’s top 20:

  1. Lukas Reichel, F
  2. Kevin Korchinski, D*
  3. Frank Nazar, F*
  4. Arvid Söderblom, G
  5. Drew Commesso, G
  6. Ian Mitchell, D
  7. Alex Vlasic, D
  8. Alec Regula, D
  9. Wyatt Kaiser, D
  10. Sam Rinzel, D*
  11. Colton Dach, F
  12. Landon Slaggert, F
  13. Ethan Del Mastro, D
  14. Isaak Phillips, D
  15. Jakub Galvas, D
  16. Nolan Allan, D
  17. Paul Ludwinski, F*
  18. Ryan Greene, F*
  19. Jalen Luypen, F
  20. Jaxson Stauber, G**
    * – drafted by Davidson
    ** – signed FA by Davidson

As we noted, Davidson’s front office has added a lot of depth to the system. Six of the 20 players who made Pope’s list have either been drafted or signed by Davidson; Stauber signed as a college free agent (we aren’t counting players drafted by Bowman who signed ELCs with Davidson).

Feeling Blue (Paint)

Like Pope, we had Commesso high on our list (No. 6) (The Athletic didn’t), but we didn’t see three netminders making a top 20 list.

Given Pope saying both ceiling and readiness played a role in his rankings, it would make sense that Söderblom ranked as highly as he did; we really thought he would get a legit shot at winning the net in Chicago this season after a really good year in Rockford. But then Davidson went out and acquired/signed two veterans for the NHL roster and that became more complicated.

To be absolutely clear: we would prefer Söderblom to Alex Stalock on the NHL roster this year. When Davidson acquired Petr Mrazek it felt like he would be the Marty Turco to Söderblom’s Corey Crawford (read: a mediocre, washed veteran to start opening night). Stalock’s signing to a contract (not a PTO) makes us wonder about Söderblom’s long-term future here; he’s a RFA after the coming season.

And having Stauber on the list ahead of forwards Dominic James and Aidan Thompson was a surprise.

Heavy D and the Boys

At the end of the 2021-22 regular season, the Blackhawks’ prospect pool was overwhelmingly defense-driven. Even with the loaded NHL roster, the Blackhawks saw young defensemen Ian Mitchell, Alex Vlasic, Alec Regula, Isaak Phillips, Jakub Galvas and Nicolas Beaudin make an NHL appearance. And there were more defensemen coming.

While the Blackhawks’ prospect rankings were dominated by the D, that doesn’t necessarily equate to those defensemen being top-pair caliber defensemen or the Blackhawks’ being a top-tier organization in that regard; it speaks more to the complete lack of forward depth behind Reichel in the system.

The Blackhawks do have some potentially good defensemen coming. And the additions of Korchinski and Rinzel in the first round of this summer’s draft are two more talented pieces. But the Blackhawks desperately needed to add forwards to the system — and did that with all but two of their picks in this year’s draft.

None of the forwards the Blackhawks drafted this year will be in the NHL this year (or any time soon for that matter) but there’s more talent and a reason to hope for an impact at some point, which is an improvement. Pope’s Top 20 is half defense (ten) and three goaltenders, so seven forwards made it — and he had only Reichel and Nazar in his top ten overall.

We’ll see how the Blackhawks use their depth on the blue line this year because many of these prospects have one or two years left on their entry-level contracts and, once again, the NHL roster is bloated with veteran contracts.

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Author: Tab Bamford

Tab is the Lead Blackhawks voice for BN. He is the author of two books about the Blackhawks, most recently "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter at @The1Tab