BN Blackhawks Top 20 Prospect Rankings: Regular Season Final Update
Year One of the rebuild is in the books. The Blackhawks made a lot of moves to add draft assets beginning last season when Kyle Davidson took over, and we’re now starting to see the fruits of his labor as his first draft class is producing at the junior and college levels. And the early returns from the 2022 draft class are incredibly promising.
But Davidson isn’t starting completely from scratch. As we’ve talked about previously, the Blackhawks drafted a few solid prospects in the final few years of the previous regime who could factor into the NHL plans soon — like, next year. And the next wave of players behind that might be even better.
Chicago’s talent depth is improved exponentially in the past 14 months, and will likely get even better with their depth of early picks in a very good 2023 NHL Draft. With regular seasons now complete in the NHL and the AHL, here are our final prospect rankings for the Blackhawks before the 2023 draft takes place.
1. Kevin Korchinski, LHD, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
Ht: 6-3 Wt: 185
Acquired: 1st round (No. 7 overall) — 2022 NHL Draft* (pick acquired from OTT in DeBrincat trade)
Everything you would want to see from a top-ten pick returning to junior was accomplished by Korchinski. He can fly, he has elite offensive instincts and his defensive game is improving. He has signed his professional contract, so the million-dollar question will be whether or not he’s ready to make the jump to the NHL next season; if not, he has to go back to junior because of his age. Another year in junior and a chance to skate top-pair minutes for Canada at the World Juniors might make sense considering both the timeline of the rebuild and the depth Chicago will have on the blue line. But there’s no question he’s an exciting player to build around moving forward.
2. Lukas Reichel, C/LW, Chicago Blackhawks (NHL)
Ht: 6-0 Wt: 170
Acquired: 1st round (No. 17 overall) — 2020 NHL Draft
Reichel is ready to be a top-six forward in the NHL. My biggest question is if the organization still wants him to be a center or if left wing is where his future remains. He showed so much more confidence in his latest run with the Blackhawks, which lasted more than a month, and his combination of speed and skill has developed really well in Rockford. Is he going to be a superstar? I’m not sure. Can he be a very effective offensive threat in the NHL? Absolutely.
3. Frank Nazar III, C, University of Michigan (Big Ten)
Ht: 5-10 Wt: 175
Acquired: 1st round (No. 13) — 2022 NHL Draft* (pick acquired from MTL in K. Dach trade)
An injury limited him to the last third of Michigan’s season, but his speed was painfully evident once he joined the Wolverines on the ice. He fan flat-out fly, folks. And there’s a swagger to his game that fans are going to love. He’ll be back in Ann Arbor for a full season next year. Whether or not he’ll still have Adam Fantilli as a teammate is TBD, but he should play a prominent role for Michigan next season.
4. Ethan Del Mastro, LHD, Sarnia Sting (OHL)
Ht: 6-4 Wt: 206
Acquired: 4th round (No. 105) — 2021 NHL Draft* (pick acquired from VAN in M. Bowey trade)
If you love watching Brent Seabrook for years, this might be the next jersey you buy. Del Mastro was the captain of his Mississauga team last year and again this season before he was traded to Sarnia. He was a late addition to Canada’s WJC team in August, which won gold. He was then named an assistant captain for Canada in the winter edition of the tournament and played top-pair minutes. He’s a physical force on the ice who can also skate the puck and moves it well. I’m extremely high on Del Mastro’s game and can’t wait to see how he plays in Rockford next season.
5. Gavin Hayes, F, Flint Firebirds (OHL)
Ht: 6-2 Wt: 178
Acquired: 3rd round (No. 66) — 2022 NHL Draft* (pick acquired from MTL in K. Dach trade)
Hayes exploded this year to score 41 goals and earn a professional contract. Because of his age, it’s NHL or back to the OHL next year; my guess is he’ll be back in junior for one more season. But the offensive ability he displayed this year was stronger than you would have assumed a third-round pick would produce. The Blackhawks might have a gem here. He is finishing the season in Rockford on a PTO.
6. Ryan Greene, F, Boston University (Hockey East)
Ht: 6-1 Wt: 180
Acquired: 2nd round (No. 57) — 2022 NHL Draft* (pick acquired from MIN in MA Fleury trade)
Greene is one of the risers on this board and has been all year. He had a terrific true freshman season at BU, driving offense and playing good defense. He has good size and speed, making him a strong center option for the Blackhawks in the future. He’ll return to BU for a sophomore season next year but we’ll be watching his progress.
7. Alex Vlasic, LHD, Rockford IceHogs (AHL)
Ht: 6-6 Wt: 218
Acquired: 2nd round (No. 43) — 2019 NHL Draft
Vlasic jumped straight to the NHL from Boston University last season and looked good. He then spent most of his preseason time skating with Seth Jones on the Blackhawks’ top pair before going to Rockford for a full season of additional development. Injuries opened the door for Vlasic to get six games of NHL action this season and his size was immediately noticeable. He has 21 NHL games on his resume and my guess is he’ll be an NHL regular next year.
8. 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)
Commesso called it a college career after a run to the Frozen Four with BU this season. He’ll start his professional career in Rockford next season and there will be plenty of eyes on his development. Many have considered him the Blackhawks’ goaltender of the future since he was drafted three years ago and he was a really good college netminder. He also saw action for the US at the Olympics last year.
9. Isaak Phillips, LHD, Rockford IceHogs (AHL)
Ht: 6-3 Wt: 205
Acquired: 5th round (No. 141) — 2019 NHL Draft
My guess is Phillips will be an NHL regular next season. We’ve seen some little bite-size pieces from him at the NHL level over the past two seasons and I like what I’ve seen. He has good size, handles the puck well and is dangerous in the corners. He has the size the Blackhawks want and can skate.
10. Aidan Thompson, C, University of Denver (NCHC)
Ht: 5-11 Wt: 170
Acquired: 3rd round (No. 90) — 2022 NHL Draft * (pick acquired from CGY for Zadorov)
Thompson’s season started late because of an injury but he was a point-per-game player at Denver as an over-age freshman this season. He looked terrific with the Blackhawks this summer at development camp and could be a player when the Hawks make him an offer to go pro. He plays a solid, steady game.
11. Nolan Allan, LHD, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
Ht: 6-2 Wt: 193
Acquired: 1st round (No. 32) — 2021 NHL Draft* (pick acquired from CBJ in S. Jones trade)
Allan was the captain of his team in Prince Albert before getting traded to Seattle, where he joined Korchinski and Colton Dach for the home stretch. He looked good as a defensive defenseman for Canada at the winter edition of the World Juniors and continued to show leadership and play well with Seattle late in the season. He’ll be in Rockford next season.
12. Cole Guttman, C, Chicago Blackhawks (NHL)
Ht: 5-9 Wt: 167
Acquired: signed as free agent (Aug. 2022)
Guttman was originally drafted by the Lightning and was the captain at the University of Denver as they won the NCAA title last year. He signed as a free agent with the Blackhawks last summer and made a strong impression in Rockford and Chicago. A shoulder injury ended his regular season prematurely but I’ve seen enough to consider him a viable option as a bottom-six center next season in Chicago.
13. Wyatt Kaiser, LHD, Chicago Blackhawks (NHL)
Ht: 6-0 Wt: 186
Acquired: 3rd round (No. 81) — 2020 NHL Draft* (pick acquired from CGY for E. Gustafsson)
Kaiser played his final season at Minnesota-Duluth (NCHC) before signing and jumping into the NHL immediately. He picked up three assists in nine games with the Blackhawks to close out the regular season. His skating is terrific and his ability to move with the puck is a strength. He needs to add some strength and get used to the professional game, but he’s a good puck-moving defenseman for the coming seasons.
14. Sam Savoie, LW, Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)
Ht: 5-10 Wt: 196
Acquired: 3rd round (No. 81) — 2022 NHL Draft* (pick acq. from Vegas in pick swap)
Savoie might be in line for a professional contract sooner than later. Fans fell in love with his Andrew Shaw-like game during training camp and he’s been a productive player in major junior this season. If you’re looking for a guy to play a sandpaper game and annoy opponents nightly, this is your guy.
15. Colton Dach, F, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
Ht: 6-4 Wt: 205
Acquired: 2nd round (No. 62) — 2021 NHL Draft* (pick acq. from Vegas in pick swap)
Dach dealt with his share of injuries this season, starting with a concussion at the Prospect Showcase and ending with an ugly shoulder injury at the winter edition of the World Juniors. But he’s produced well when on the ice and still has a good future. He plays a true power forward game and will be in Rockford next season.
16. Dominic James, C, Minnesota-Duluth (NCHC)
Ht: 6-0 Wt: 180
Acquired: 6th round (No. 173) — 2022 NHL Draft* (pick acquired from CBJ in S. Jones trade)
James showed very well with the US team as the best faceoff guy at the summer edition of the World Juniors. He followed that up with a good season at Minnesota-Duluth. He’ll be back in college for his junior season next year, but he could be a factor as a bottom-six center for the Blackhawks in the coming years. With him entering his third collegiate season next year, he might be in play to sign with Chicago at the end of the 2023-24 season.
17. Sam Rinzel, RHD, Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL)
Ht: 6-4 Wt: 180
Acquired: 1st round (No. 25) — 2022 NHL Draft* (pick acquired from TOR in Mrazek trade)
Rinzel was the Blackhawks’ third pick in the first round last summer and had a strong season in the USHL. He’s committed to begin his college career at the University of Minnesota next season, joining a team that was the runner-up in the Frozen Four this past season. He’s a big, right-handed shooting defenseman who can move. There’s a lot to like here, but he’s still very raw. A few college seasons will help his development.
18. Paul Ludwinski, C, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
Ht: 5-11 Wt: 190
Acquired: 2nd round (No. 39) — 2022 NHL Draft* (pick acquired from OTT in DeBrincat trade)
Ludwinski recently signed his professional contract but will be back in junior next season. He dealt with a few injuries this season so the numbers aren’t quite what many would like, but there’s a lot of skill there that will benefit from another, healthy season in junior.
19. Ilya Safonov, C, Ak Bars Kazan (KHL)
Ht: 6-3 Wt: 205
Acquired: 6th round (No. 172) — 2021 NHL Draft
He’s a big center who is doing good things in the KHL, so there’s a lot of buzz around him as a prospect recently. But he has a couple more seasons under contract in Russia, which clouds when he might be available to help the Blackhawks in the NHL. He might be ranked higher if not for the KHL situation.
20. Landon Slaggert, LW, Notre Dame (Big Ten)
Ht: 6-0 Wt: 190
Acquired: 3rd round (No. 79) — 2020 NHL Draft
Slaggert is returning to Notre Dame for his senior season to play with his younger brother, Carter. His season was up and down because of some injuries. The organization still really likes his game — as do I. We’ll just wait another collegiate season before he turns pro.
Ryder Rolston, F, Notre Dame (NCAA) / Rockford (AHL)
Jaylen Luypen, C, Tri-City (WHL)
Victor Stjernborg, C, Växjö (SHL)
Filip Roos, LHD, Rockford (AHL)
Nils Juntorp, LW, Dubuque (USHL)
Alec Regula, RHD, Rockford (AHL)**
Taige Harding, LHD, Providence (Hockey East)
Arvid Söderblom, G, Rockford (AHL)**
Jaxson Stauber, G, Rockford (AHL)
Dominic Basse, G, St. Cloud State (NCHC)
** – Pending RFA this summer