It’s Game (well, scrimmage) Day, hockey fans! At 7 PM CT tonight the Blackhawks’ prospects will hit the ice against prospects from the Minnesota Wild at the Fifth Third Arena. We’re excited to see how the players line up and how they compete against another team’s prospects in game action. It’s been a fun couple days watching the coaching staff work these guys.
- Before the prospects took the ice the last two days, a collection of NHL and AHL players have been skating. Wednesday was a lighter practice that saw Patrick Kane and Max Domi on the ice for what appeared to be a lighter workout. Thursday morning there was a bigger group of players in a scrimmage of sorts.
- Jujhar Khaira and Connor Murphy both ended last season on LTIR and, with the news earlier this week that Jake McCabe will miss the first couple months of the regular season, we’ve been waiting to see/hear how those two guys are doing. I can happily report that both was on the ice Thursday and looked pretty good. At one point Seth Jones gave Khaira a hard time in the corner and, once the puck was gone, they both laughed about it. So that’s good news.
- In what will soon become our “Alex or Alec” segment, Alec Regula was on the ice with the NHL and AHL guys. And he was skating with Murphy consistently. Alex Vlasic, on the other hand, is skating in the games against Minnesota beginning tonight.
- It also appeared that Taylor Raddysh and Boris Katchouk were both on the ice yesterday. Both players were on the 2018 WJC team for Canada that is currently under investigation.
- Ian Mitchell was also among the defensemen skating on Thursday morning.
- On the ice for the prospects, we continue to be impressed with the 2022 draft picks. Anders Sorensen, who will coach the prospects this week before taking the helm in Rockford as the permanent head coach, was asked about what he’s seen from Kevin Korchinski and he was very complimentary.
I thought Korchinski looked really good today. We saw him in development camp as well. He’s got some abilities that are I think off the charts offensively.
- Sorensen also had great things to say about Sam Savoie, who the Blackhawks selected in the third round (No. 81 overall).
Great character. He works. Another guy who’s inside the dots, he’s around the net he’s a competitive bugger and has a great personality. I’m impressed.
- Sorensen also noted that he’s in a great, collaborative place with Luke Richardson’s staff and the systems will be consistent in Rockford and Chicago.
- We spoke with forward Cole Guttman yesterday about how playing four years of college hockey at the University of Denver helped prepare him for his first professional season in Rockford. He’s been impressive this week and I’m looking forward to seeing how he’s used in the game tonight.
- Outside of Chicago, it appears Duncan Keith is stepping away from playing — but not the NHL game completely. He has reportedly signed on to work in player development with the Oilers this season.
- Mark Lazerus at The Athletic wrote an interesting piece looking at how prospects are adapting to the new front office. As he points out, the only prospects who are fully Kyle Davidson “guys” are Guttman and the draft class from this summer. Everyone else is trying to get a read on how they align with Davidson’s vision for the future.
- The one area where the Blackhawks appear to have more depth coming sooner than later is on the blue line, where a logjam of prospects is going to open doors and complicate the climb for others. Lazerus opines that Vlasic, who appeared in 15 games last season, is at the top of the prospect depth chart now for defensemen after a good showing last season after his career at Boston University came to a close. We’ll see how the callups and ice time are handed out with Vlasic, Regula, Mitchell and others in the mix.
- It is worth noting, again, that Vlasic did not get into the playoffs in Rockford. After a full college season and 15 games in the NHL, he got the summer to regroup and get ready for his first full professional season. Regula, Mitchell, Isaak Phillips and others did see playoff action in Rockford after seeing some run in the NHL last year as well. Vlasic is also playing in the prospect showcase this week while Mitchell and Regula are with the NHL players.
- Lazerus also openly asks how Nolan Allan, the final first-round pick of the Stan Bowman Era, fits into the plans moving forward. Allan is a solid defensive defenseman. But as we’ve noted frequently this summer, there are so many bigger defensemen signed and more coming that his role in the organization will be interesting to watch in the coming year. Davidson did sign Allan to an entry-level contract earlier this year.
- Finally, in our regular reminder that patience is a virtue when your favorite team is rebuilding segment, last year the Cubs traded a fan favorite for an injured prospect and part of the fan base lost its mind. The Cubs landed Pete Crow-Armstrong from the Mets for Javier Baez; El Mago was in New York for two months and now PCA is the Cubs’ minor league player of the year. Sometimes you just need to wait to see how things play out.