December Updates to our BN Blackhawks Top 20 Prospect Rankings

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December Updates to our BN Blackhawks Top 20 Prospect Rankings

Chicago Blackhawks

It’s been almost a full month since we updated our prospect rankings for the Chicago Blackhawks, and a lot has happened. At the NHL level, the Blackhawks went from an interesting, overachieving team back to the top four spots in the draft lottery. On the ice all over the junior, college and AHL ranks, Blackhawks prospects have been performing well this season.

If you compare this list with my November update, you’ll notice a lot of movement. Players, especially those in college, have a more significant body of work to consider now than they did in early November. And some of the players in junior might be in the mix for the World Juniors, for which the rosters will be announced soon.

Note: I am not including Frank Nazar in my December update because he hasn’t played this season. I am also choosing to exclude Ian Mitchell from this month’s update. He’s back on the ice, but has seen only limited time at the AHL and NHL level and has bounced back and forth between the two.

1. Kevin Korchinski, LHD, Seattle (WHL)

If you were looking for Korchinski to show out this season, he’s done that pretty well thus far. In his first 20 games for Seattle he has three goals (including two game-winners) and 25 assists. Most analysts are predicting/projecting Korchinski onto Canada’s roster for the upcoming World Juniors, and I would expect that to be a big stepping point for the seventh overall pick in 2022. Just a reminder: he’s terrific with the puck and can fly up the ice, and he’s listed at 6-3.

2. Lukas Reichel, LW, Rockford (AHL)

Reichel, who’s still only 20 years old until May 17, has scored 10 goals with 13 assists in 19 games for the IceHogs this season. There have been some questions about his performance, both when Scott Powers went to watch Rockford earlier this season and again when our Patrick watched him in Rosemont, but he has consistently put numbers on the board. The IceHogs have a nice group of AHL veterans around him to take some of the pressure off, and Reichel is responding with a very good offensive season.

3. Ethan Del Mastro, LHD, Mississauga (OHL)

Del Mastro didn’t play on Saturday night because he’s in concussion protocol. But everything I’ve seen from him says he’s a legit NHL prospect. He has the size (6-4, 206) teams crave and can also move a little and handles the puck well. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him playing a significant role on Canada’s team at the upcoming World Junior Championship. Del Mastro has two goals and 16 assists in 21 games for Mississauga (OHL) and is serving as their captain this season.

4. Ryan Greene, C, Boston University (NCAA)

As a true, teenage freshman at nationally-ranked Boston University, Greene has been electric this season. He ranks third on the Terriers with 14 points in 14 games (6 goals, 8 assists) and his goal total is tied for second on the roster. He’s stayed a a point-per-game clip in conference play in Hockey East, scoring four times with six assists in ten games.

5. Alex Vlasic, LHD, Rockford (AHL)

Vlasic has one goal and three assists in his first 17 games in the AHL this season. He isn’t necessarily going to be a big time point producer, so his production isn’t a shock. But he’s been very good defensively this season and continues to work on his game. The Blackhawks aren’t going to rush him back to the NHL before the think he’s ready, but it might get hard to keep him in Rockford.

6. Isaak Phillips, LHD, Rockford (AHL)

It’s safe to say Phillips might be the defenseman in the organization playing for either Rockford or Chicago who is grabbing the most attention early this season. Blackhawks head coach Luke Richardson has thrown his name out there a couple times in press conferences when asked about prospects, and his play is certainly making you understand the reason(s). He’s been much better defensively and can drive offense. In the AHLTracker category of Win Shares per 72 games, Phillips ranks first among all skaters under the age of 22 (see below). He might be on the fast track to Chicago if/when spot(s) open up.

7. Gavin Hayes, RW, Flint (OHL)

After scoring 19 times in 65 games in his pre-draft season, Hayes has elevated his game with Flint this year. His two goals against Paul Ludwinski‘s Kingston squad on Sunday give him 14 already in just 27 games to open this year. He leads Flint with 88 shots on net and ranks second with 26 points. Like Greene, he has good size (both 6-1) and can move.

8. Sam Savoie, LW, Gatineau (QMJHL)

If Savoie wasn’t your favorite player during the prospect practices or preseason, I’m not sure what to tell you. He models his game after Brad Marchand and has been referred to by more than one person in the Blackhawks organization as another Andrew Shaw-type player. Well, his offense might be closer to Marchand than Shaw (respectfully). Savoie’s point streak ended on Sunday but he’s been on fire lately. He had 18 goals and 15 assists for 33 points in 64 games last year before getting drafted. This season he already has 13 goals and 13 assists in just 25 games. Oh, and he doesn’t turn 19 until March 25.

9. Paul Ludwinski, C, Kingston (OHL)

Ludwinski got a late jump on this season after suffering a concussion in the Blackhawks’ prospect showcase against Minnesota. But he coincidentally scored his second goal of the season — a short-handed goal — against Hayes and Flint on Sunday. He also has 14 assists in his first 21 games with the Frontenacs this year.

10. Aidan Thompson, C, Denver (NCAA)

Since returning from the injury he suffered at the World Junior camp this summer, Thompson has been skating at the third-line center for the Pioneers — who have been in/around the top three in the national polls for most of this season. He has added three goals and five assists in his first eight games to the offense of the defending national champs.

11. Wyatt Kaiser, LHD, Minnesota-Duluth (NCAA)

After a really good summer, this season hasn’t been what Kaiser had hoped on the ice thus far. Minnesota-Duluth is 8-8-0 and Kaiser has posted two goals and two assists in 14 games. He has been credited with 14 blocked shots, but he also has 34 PIM on his stat line (including two major penalties). I still think he’s a solid pro prospect but this has not been an ideal season for the junior defenseman.

12. Dominic James, C, Minnesota-Duluth (NCAA)

James is a teammate of Kaiser’s, so everything I said about this not being a great season transfers to here. James, a sophomore who was a sixth-round pick by the Blackhawks before representing the US in the COVID-delayed World Juniors this summer, has been credited with four goals and five assists in 14 games for the Bulldogs. He was really good in the faceoff circle for the US this summer and has shown that again this season; he ranks fourth in the NCHC this season winning 57 percent of his draws (155 of 272).

13. Ilya Safonov, C, Ak Bars Kazan (KHL)

Safonov, 21, is the captain of Ak Bars Kazan in the KHL this season. He has really good size (6-4, 205) and has shown an offensive flair this season with 11 goals in 35 games played. I would love to see him come over and get some run in the AHL and possibly NHL, but he inked a new deal with his KHL club that runs through the 2024-25 season. It’s worth noting he’s on the same roster as former NHL forward Alex Radulov.

14. Drew Commesso, G, Boston University (NCAA)

Commesso is having a nice season at Boston University. He was banged up a little earlier in the season but has come back strong. He’s started eight games and has a 6-2-0 record. He’s allowed 18 goals in his eight starts but six of them came in a stunning butt-kicking at Michigan in which Commesso lasted only 25 minutes. He has a .915 overall save percentage this season and a 2.41 goals against average.

15. Colton Dach, C, Kelowna (WHL)

This has been a struggle of a year for Colton Dach, starting in the middle of the summer when the Blackhawks traded his older brother, Kirby, to the Canadiens. To his credit, Colton came into development camp the following week and worked hard. He came back for the prospect showcase games at the end of the summer and looked terrific in the practices and scored the first goal of the first game early in the first period on a line with Lukas Reichel. But he didn’t return for the second period and a concussion kept him on the shelf until late in the NHL’s preseason. He suffered another concussion in Kelowna and has been suspended as well. Yet he leads Kelowna with four game-winning goals in only 14 appearances and has nine goals and eight assists on this resume. And’s he’s the Rockets’ captain this year. I think there’s a lot to like about Colton’s game, but he needs to stay on the ice.

16. Landon Slaggert, LW, Notre Dame (NCAA)

After a terrific summer with the US team at the World Juniors and showing well at the development camp, Slaggert’s 2022-23 season has not gone as well as many would have hoped. He missed a couple games in November because he was banged up and has just three points to show for 14 games thus far. The Irish are 7-7-2 this season, however, so Slaggert is far from the only player underwhelming this season. I still think there’s a lot to like about his game and could see him contributing in a bottom-six role at some point.

17. Alec Regula, RHD, Rockford (AHL)

Regula has two goals and four assists in 11 AHL games this season. He’s also spent time with the NHL roster and, if not for there being too many veteran bodies in Chicago, would probably be in the NHL right now full-time. He’s a solid defenseman with a good, long reach. There’s a lot of work to do here but the skill is there for him to be a player. I do think other defensemen — specifically Phillips — have shown incredibly well and better than Regula thus far this season.

18. Dominic Basse, G, St. Cloud State (NCAA)

Basse, 21, has been an absolute revelation this season. After two uneventful seasons at Colorado College, he transferred to St. Cloud State and has become one of the better goaltenders in the entire NCAA this season. His 1.29 goals against average is the best in the country and his .948 save percentage is also No. 1 in the nation. The Blackhawks drafted Basse in the sixth round (No. 167 overall) in 2019. He’s listed at 6-6 and 190 pounds and might be in play for a contract after this season if he wants to go pro.

19. Sam Rinzel, RHD, Waterloo (USHL)

The Blackhawks’ third pick in the first round of the 2022 NHL Draft remains a lottery ticket. He’s a 6-5 right-handed defenseman who can skate and handle the puck, but he has a lot of work to do to be a bona fide NHL prospect. He’s skating with Waterloo (USHL) this season where he has one goal and ten assists in 19 games. He’s committed to play at the University of Minnesota next year, which is good; the Gophers are still one of the top programs in the country and he’ll use a couple years of additional development in the college ranks to refine his game.

20. Michal Teplý, F, Rockford (AHL)

The Blackhawks drafted Teplý all the way back in the fourth round in 2019. His numbers aren’t eye-popping (three goals and six assists in 16 games) but I’ve been impressed every time I’ve watched him in person. He has really good size (6-3, 187) and can move pretty well for a player his size. He turns 22 at the end of May and has one more year on his contract so I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he gets a taste of the NHL at some point this season and gets a long look in training camp next year.

Honorable Mention

Victor Stjernborg, C, Växjö (SHL)
Nolan Allan, LHD, Seattle (WHL)
Jakub Galvas, LHD, Rockford (AHL)
Taige Harding, LHD, Providence (Hockey East)
Artur Kayumov, LW/RW, Lokomotiv (KHL)
Jake Wise, C, Ohio State (Big Ten)
Ryder Rolston, RW, Notre Dame (B1G)
Cole Guttman, C, Rockford (AHL)
Josiah Slavin, C, Rockford (AHL)

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