There are some undrafted players in the college ranks right now who could be intriguing for the Blackhawks. Considering collegiate upperclassmen makes sense for the Blackhawks, who have made plain their goal of giving all of their prospects (especially newer ones) adequate time to develop before moving them up to the NHL level.
Over the summer, one of the surprise signings by Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson was forward Cole Guttman, who was coming off a national championship season as the captain of the Denver Pioneers. Guttman was originally drafted by the Lightning but didn’t sign with Tampa, making him available to the Blackhawks.
Like Guttman, the experience could prove valuable in Rockford and give the Blackhawks some options to fill out their NHL roster if they can find a solid option. And for the players, the potential opportunity to get NHL ice time in Chicago might make signing here more advantageous.
Here are a few undrafted college players I’m interested in as potential options for the Blackhawks when their seasons come to an end.
Wilmer Skoog, Boston University
Skoog is a guy the Blackhawks will see a lot of with Ryan Greene and Drew Commesso both playing on the same roster. Last year as a junior he had 30 points (15 goals, 15 assists) in 35 games for the Terriers. The 6-2 Swede is 23 years old and (as you can see above) has some sex appeal to his game; he’s pulled off a “Michigan” goal in a game four times in his career.
This season, Skoog has scored only once in 11 starts but his size and skill make him at least intriguing. And clearly the Blackhawks have familiarity with the program having two prospects skating there to ask questions about his ability and the fit.
Parker Ford, Providence College
Ford has one thing in common with Skoog: he’s currently playing with two current Blackhawks prospects. Both Taige Harding and Connor Kelley are skating on the blue line for Providence. Ford is an undersized center (5-9) but he’s been productive for three and a half years at Providence.
Ford had 13 goals and 14 assists in 38 games last year and has five goals and seven assists in 15 this year. While he doesn’t have a lot of size, that hasn’t been an issue for Davidson’s front office.
Ben Steeves, Minnesota-Duluth
This is another case of a player having a good season on a college team with multiple Blackhawks prospects. Chicago has both Dominic James and Wyatt Kaiser on the UMD roster this season, where Steeves is leading the team with eight goals in 12 games thus far.
Steeves is an interesting consideration because he’s already 20 years old but is just playing his freshman college season. He had a terrific age-19 season with the Sioux City Musketeers in the USHL last year, posting 39 goals in 60 games. During the 2018-19 season he appeared in two games with the Lincoln Stars in the USHL, the same season in which Aidan Thompson made eight appearances and Blackhawks’ prospect Josiah Slavin finished tied for second on the team with 27 points.
Hunter McKown, Colorado College
The Blackhawks got a good look at McKown when he was skating for the US at the 2022 World Junior Championship, where he picked up one assist in four games. He has decent size (6-1, 185) and had a nice sophomore season at CC with 13 goals in 35 games.
This season, McKown has scored seven times in 14 games. He’s another undrafted prospect in the NCHC that the Blackhawks might keep an eye on with a number of other prospects in that conference this season.
Jason Polin, Western Michigan
Polin, like Skoog, is already 23 years old. But he’s having a significantly better season for Western Michigan in the NCHC. Polin has already scored 13 goals with 10 assists in 16 games, putting him three points shy of his career-high 26 points that he reached in 39 games last year.
He’s also an undersized forward (5-11, 184) but not quite as small as Ford. He had back-to-back hat tricks early in November against Miami Ohio so there’s an explosive element to his game that might/should be attractive to the Blackhawks’ front office.
Justin Hryckowian, Northeastern
Hryckowian will turn 22 on Feb. 23 but is playing just his second season for Northeastern in Hockey East. He was named to the Hockey East All-Rookie Team after last season in which he had 22 points in 25 games. This season, he has nine goals and ten assists in 15 games.
He isn’t a big guy (5-10) but he’s been a very good faceoff guy for Northeastern this season. The Blackhawks could use a guy who can score and win faceoffs.