Post-Trade Deadline Updates to our BN Blackhawks Top 20 Prospect Rankings

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Post-Trade Deadline Updates to our BN Blackhawks Top 20 Prospect Rankings

Chicago Blackhawks

So much has happened in the five weeks since we last visited our prospect rankings for the Chicago Blackhawks that Feb. 1 feels like a lifetime ago. The Blackhawks have successfully navigated one of the busiest trade seasons in franchise history, adding more draft capital to an organization that is now ranked the fifth-best pipeline in the NHL by The Athletic.

When we last visited this discussion, I did not have Frank Nazar — the 13th overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft — among the players listed because he hadn’t appeared in a game yet this season. Well, he’s made his collegiate debut for Michigan and has become a part of their dynamic attack.

With all of the trades that have taken place over the past month, and with college and junior seasons nearing their conclusions (with playoffs to come), let’s re-rank the 20 best prospects in the Blackhawks organization.

1. Kevin Korchinski, LHD, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)

Ht: 6-3 Wt: 185
Shoots: Left
Acquired: 1st round (No. 7 overall) — 2022 NHL Draft* (pick acquired from OTT in DeBrincat trade)

After producing 65 points in 67 games in his pre-draft season, we expected to see his game go up this year. And it has, both for Seattle and with Canada at the winter edition of the World Juniors. He was one of the younger players on the Canadian roster (doesn’t turn 19 until late-June) that won gold. Thus far this season for a loaded Seattle team, Korchinski has 61 points in only 45 games and he’s plus-44 (yes, that’s +44!) this season. He’s already signed to a professional contract and his play this season is going to make us wonder if there’s much left for him to prove in junior or if he’s headed to Chicago next season.

2. Lukas Reichel, C/LW, Chicago Blackhawks (NHL)

Ht: 6-0 Wt: 170
Shoots: Left
Acquired: 1st round (No. 17 overall) — 2020 NHL Draft

The Blackhawks have tried to keep Reichel in Rockford as long as they can; he was sent down for about five minutes around the NHL trade deadline so he’ll be eligible to play in the AHL playoffs. But for right now he’s in Chicago, where he has four points in six games this season. With the IceHogs this season, Reichel has 17 goals and 29 assists in 51 games and was named an AHL All-Star. His speed and skill stands out on the current NHL roster. Imagine when some of the other names on this list join him in the professional ranks.

3. Frank Nazar III, C, University of Michigan (Big Ten)

Ht: 5-10 Wt: 175
Shoots: Right
Acquired: 1st round (No. 13) — 2022 NHL Draft* (pick acquired from MTL in K. Dach trade)

For the first time since his injury, Nazar joins our rankings. And yes, I’m throwing him right back near the top of the group. The Blackhawks drafted him with the first of two picks acquired from Montreal in the trade that sent Kirby Dach to the Habs and his profile was speed and skill for days. We had to wait until February to finally see it in the Big Ten but he has not disappointed. He’s still working his way back and trying to insert himself into a really good lineup late in the season, but he’s shown flashes of the speed, swagger and style that we loved over the summer. Nazar has four points in his first eight games for the Wolverines.

4. Ethan Del Mastro, LHD, Sarnia Sting (OHL)

Ht: 6-4 Wt: 206
Shoots: Left
Acquired: 4th round (No. 105) — 2021 NHL Draft* (pick acquired from VAN in M. Bowey trade)

I’m not sure there are many drafted prospects who have done more to raise their NHL stock in the past year than Del Mastro. He was an injury replacement on Canada’s gold medal-winning WJC team in August and then a top-pair defenseman wearing an “A” for them in another gold medal effort in the winter edition. He was the captain of Mississauga before he was traded to Sarnia, where he continues to thrive and put up big numbers. In total this season, Del Mastro has 52 points in 47 games and plays a big, strong, heavy game but look at the wheels he shows off in the tweeted clip below. This kid’s legit and I cannot wait to see him in Chicago full-time down the road.

5. Ryan Greene, F, Boston University (Hockey East)

Ht: 6-1 Wt: 180
Shoots: Left
Acquired: 2nd round (No. 57) — 2022 NHL Draft* (pick acquired from MIN in MA Fleury trade)

Greene, 19, was the fifth player selected by the Blackhawks in the 2022 NHL Draft but has emerged as maybe the biggest surprise in the class. Not saying a second-round pick having a good season is a shocking turn of events, but Greene has been really good for BU this season. He has 27 points in 32 games as a true, teenage freshman. He has good size and has been playing an important role on a really good BU team with national title aspirations.

6. Isaak Phillips, LHD, Rockford IceHogs (AHL)

Ht: 6-3 Wt: 205
Shoots: Left
Acquired: 5th round (No. 141) — 2019 NHL Draft

We’ve seen Phillips in the NHL this season; he has five points in 16 games. Sure, there have been some good moments and some teachable ones as well. But when we look around the Blackhawks’ NHL roster right now… that’s going to happen. He has skyrocketed up the Blackhawks’ pipeline since he was drafted and continues to be impressive on and off the ice.

7. Gavin Hayes, F, Flint Firebirds (OHL)

Ht: 6-2 Wt: 178
Shoots: Right
Acquired: 3rd round (No. 66) — 2022 NHL Draft* (pick acquired from MTL in K. Dach trade)

Hayes, the “other” player drafted with the picks acquired in the Kirby Dach deal, has been magnificent this season for Flint in the OHL. He has scored 31 goals and added 35 assists in 59 games and leads the Firebirds with 192 shots on net this season. He won’t turn 19 until the middle of May.

8. Aidan Thompson, C, University of Denver (NCHC)

Ht: 5-11 Wt: 170
Shoots: Left
Acquired: 3rd round (No. 90) — 2022 NHL Draft * (pick acquired from CGY for Zadorov)

Thompson, who turned 21 on Feb. 18, was an overage pick by the Blackhawks who immediately turned heads this summer in camp with the Blackhawks and the US team before the August edition of the World Juniors. Unfortunately a leg injury ended his hopes of making the WJC roster and delayed the start of his first college season, but he’s made up for lost time. Since the start of February, Thompson has four goals and six assists over his last nine games; he has registered a point in 21 of 28 games this season. Thompson has 28 points in 28 games for DU this season.

9. Drew Commesso, G, Boston University (Hockey East)

Ht: 6-2 Wt: 180
Acquired: 2nd round (No. 46) — 2020 NHL Draft* (pick acquired from Vegas in M. Subban trade)

Yes, Commesso has had a couple clunkers this year. And yes, he passed on the opportunity to skate in the August edition of the World Juniors to be ready for his junior season at BU. But for most of this season he’s been dominant, strengthening the belief that he’s the Blackhawks’ goaltender of the future. He has two shutouts and a .910 save percentage this season for one of the better teams in the country.

10. Cole Guttman, C, Chicago Blackhawks (NHL)

Ht: 5-9 Wt: 167
Shoots: Right
Acquired: signed as free agent (Aug. 2022)

Look, when the Blackhawks signed Guttman back in August a lot of us were like “oh, a guy.” Then we noticed he was the captain of Denver’s national championship team last year and was drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning but didn’t sign with the Bolts. And then we watched him play… Since being recalled, Guttman has three goals in ten games for the Blackhawks and is sticking on the NHL roster the rest of the way.

11. Alex Vlasic, LHD, Rockford IceHogs (AHL)

Ht: 6-6 Wt: 218
Shoots: Left
Acquired: 2nd round (No. 43) — 2019 NHL Draft

Three or four years ago, Vlasic probably plays 65 games in the NHL this season, his first full campaign as a professional. But the Blackhawks’ front office is allowing him to take his time and develop in Rockford. He’s a massive human being who is an underrated passer. He’s dealt with some injury issues this season but still has 15 points in 45 games for the IceHogs. He spent some time with Seth Jones during the NHL preseason and I liked what I saw and, frankly, wouldn’t mind seeing some more of that in the future.

12. Sam Savoie, LW, Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)

Ht: 5-10 Wt: 196
Shoots: Left
Acquired: 3rd round (No. 81) — 2022 NHL Draft* (pick acq. from Vegas in pick swap)

Savoie, who will turn 19 in late-March, absolutely took over the summer hype machine at prospect camp and again in the fall with a stunning Andrew Shaw impression on the ice. He isn’t a big guy but he’s tenacious and goes to the dirty areas frequently and with intent. If we wanted to see that impressive summer carry over into his regular season, it has; Savoie has career highs with 24 goals and 30 assists and is plus-30 in 50 games this season. The pick used to select Savoie was acquired in the same trade with Vegas that grabbed the pick that selected Colton Dach.

13. Nolan Allan, LHD, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)

Ht: 6-2 Wt: 193
Shoots: Left
Acquired: 1st round (No. 32) — 2021 NHL Draft* (pick acquired from CBJ in S. Jones trade)

Allan was the captain in Prince Albert before his rights were traded to Seattle to join Korchinski. Allan then joined Korchinski, Del Mastro and Dach on Canada’s roster for the World Juniors and played an impressive role for the gold medal winners. He has nine goals and 14 assists in 47 games combined this season and has done a really nice job showing some offensive instincts at times despite being primarily considered a defense-first player.

14. Colton Dach, F, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)

Ht: 6-4 Wt: 205
Shoots: Left
Acquired: 2nd round (No. 62) — 2021 NHL Draft* (pick acq. from Vegas in pick swap)

Dach had a really good summer in Chicago after his brother was traded to Montreal and was doing a great job of establishing himself as his own player in the Blackhawks’ system before a concussion suffered at the prospect showcase against Minnesota started a long, frustrating season filled with injuries. He suffered a second concussion as the captain of Kelowna, came back and made Canada’s team for the winter edition of the World Juniors, only to suffer a significant shoulder injury that ended his tournament. Then he was traded to Seattle, where he joined Korchinski and Allan. He still has 23 points in just 19 games (total) and has a lot of great traits but the injuries have been brutal this season.

15. Wyatt Kaiser, LHD, Minnesota-Duluth (NCHC)

Ht: 6-0 Wt: 186
Shoots: Left
Acquired: 3rd round (No. 81) — 2020 NHL Draft* (pick acquired from CGY for E. Gustafsson)

Kaiser is one of at least three college players I expect to have at least a long conversation with the Blackhawks about turning pro when his season ends. Kaiser, a junior who turns 21 at the end of July (he’s younger than Dom James but has one more college season under his belt) has 19 points in 32 games for UMD this season. He’s closing his season with a bang, too; Kaiser has eight points (one goal, seven assists) in his last five games.

16. Dominic James, C, Minnesota-Duluth (NCHC)

Ht: 6-0 Wt: 180
Shoots: Left
Acquired: 6th round (No. 173) — 2022 NHL Draft* (pick acquired from CBJ in S. Jones trade)

James had a very good showing at the World Juniors in August; he was the best faceoff man in the tournament for the United States. He had continued to show terrific skill at the dot this season for the Bulldogs, winning 56.6 percent of his faceoffs to date. James, a sophomore who will turn 21 in July, has six assists in his last six games and now has 24 points in 32 games for UMD.

17. Sam Rinzel, RHD, Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL)

Ht: 6-4 Wt: 180
Shoots: Right
Acquired: 1st round (No. 25) — 2022 NHL Draft* (pick acquired from TOR in Mrazek trade)

Rinzel is a long-term project for the Blackhawks. He’s committed to play at the University of Minnesota beginning next year, which is terrific because the Gophers are one of the best programs in the country (still). He’s had a very nice season in the USHL (28 points in 41 games) and, as a right-handed shot at his size and with his skating ability, is a lottery ticket worth holding.

18. Paul Ludwinski, C, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)

Ht: 5-11 Wt: 190
Shoots: Left
Acquired: 2nd round (No. 39) — 2022 NHL Draft* (pick acquired from OTT in DeBrincat trade)
Ludwinski’s seasons started late because of a concussion he suffered in Chicago and he’s never really been able to get on track or stay healthy. The good news is he has still shown flashes of why the Blackhawks made him the 39th overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft — and the Blackhawks don’t need to rush him into the professional game because they suddenly have the luxury of organizational depth. Even with his injury issues, Ludwinski still has nine goals and 25 assists in 47 games. He is the captain in Kingston after the trade deadline in the CHL.

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

Ht: 6-3 Wt: 205
Shoots: Left
Acquired: 6th round (No. 172) — 2021 NHL Draft

A lot of international scouts really like what they’ve seen from Safonov this season in the KHL. He doesn’t turn 22 until the end of May and he has 19 goals in 64 games this season as a young captain. He has really good size, and would probably be higher on my list if he wasn’t signed in the KHL until the end of the 2024-25 season.

20. Landon Slaggert, LW, Notre Dame (Big Ten)

Ht: 6-0 Wt: 190
Shoots: Left
Acquired: 3rd round (No. 79) — 2020 NHL Draft

Slaggert showed well for the US at the August edition of the World Juniors and had a very good summer in Chicago. His season at Notre Dame hasn’t been what he or the Irish would have hoped, largely because he’s dealt with a few injuries throughout the season. He did have a nice stretch where he scored five goals over a six-game span from late-January to early-February. He has 13 points in 34 games. I would like to see the Blackhawks get him signed, likely beginning his professional career next season (though I could see them burning the first year of his ELC this spring if he’s healthy).

Honorable Mention

Jaylen Luypen, C, Tri-City (WHL)
Filip Roos, LHD, Rockford (AHL)
Jake Wise, C, Ohio State (Big Ten)
Nils Juntorp, LW, Dubuque (USHL)
Alec Regula, RHD, Rockford (AHL)
Taige Harding, LHD, Providence (Hockey East)
Victor Stjernborg, C, Växjö (SHL)
Pavel Gogolev, LW, Rockford (AHL)
Arvid Söderblom, G, Rockford (AHL)
Jaxson Stauber, G, Rockford (AHL)
Dominic Basse, G, St. Cloud State (NCHC)

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