BN Blackhawks Top 20 Prospect Rankings: Frozen Four, Season-Ending April Updates

As we near the end of the NHL regular season for the Blackhawks, the junior ranks are already in their playoffs and the AHL is closing in on their postseason. The Rockford IceHogs have punched their ticket already, which is awesome. But this week, our eyes will be on the college ranks where the Blackhawks have three prospects playing in the Frozen Four.

Frank Nazar III (Michigan), Ryan Greene (Boston University) and Aidan Thompson (Denver) will all skate for a national championship this week. Greene and Thompson will face each other before Nazar faces the top-ranked Boston College squad that’s loaded with freshman studs.

We haven’t updated our rankings of the top prospects in the Blackhawks organization in a while, but now is a good time to take stock of how the future is stacking up for Chicago. Let’s go!

Frank Nazar University of Michigan Chicago Blackhawks
Junfu Han / USA TODAY Sports

1. Frank Nazar, C, Michigan (Big Ten)

Ht: 5-10 Wt: 180
Shoots: Right
Acquired: 1st round (No. 13) — 2022 NHL Draft* (pick acquired from Montreal in K. Dach trade)
2023-24 Stats: 40 games, 17 goals, 24 assists, 102 shots on goal, 18 blocked shots, 54.5% FO

Any questions you may have had about Nazar coming back from his hip injury should be answered by now. He’s been a full point-per-game player and excellent in the faceoff circle this year for a Michigan team that got its redemption after losing the Big Ten title game to Michigan State in the regional final. He’s been good enough that it’s contract time whenever his collegiate season ends.

2. Oliver Moore, C/LW, Minnesota (Big Ten)

Ht: 5-11 Wt: 194
Shoots: Left
Acquired: 1st round (No. 19 overall) — 2023 NHL Draft* (pick acquired from TB in the Brandon Hagel trade)
2023-24 Stats: 39 games, 9 goals, 24 assists, 88 shots on goal

As a true freshman, Moore spent most of the second half of the season flirting with being a point-per-game player. He’ll go back to Minnesota for a sophomore year and have some veterans around him with hopes of making a deeper run in the NCAA postseason. He played a lot of wing for Minnesota and the US at the World Juniors, so there’s some additional versatility to consider here.

3. Ethan Del Mastro, LHD, Rockford IceHogs (AHL)

Ht: 6-4 Wt: 210
Shoots: Left
Acquired: 4th round (No. 105) — 2021 NHL Draft* (pick acquired from Vancouver in M. Bowey trade)
2023-24 Stats: 67 games, 7 goals, 29 assists, 80 shots on net, 3 game-winning goals

Del Mastro has had a marvelous first professional season in Rockford. He’s fourth among AHL rookie defensemen with 36 points, bringing more offense than maybe some folks thought he would coming into the year. He played well for Canada at the World Juniors and has worn a letter in multiple stops. The IceHogs have skated him on the right side a fair amount this season. He may be ready for Chicago next year.

4. Gavin Hayes, RW, Soo Greyhounds (OHL)

Ht: 6-2 Wt: 178
Shoots: Right
Acquired: 3rd round (No. 66) — 2022 NHL Draft* (pick acquired from Montreal in K. Dach trade)
2023-24 Regular Season Stats — Flint (OHL): 27 games, 19 goals, 17 assists, 87 shots on goal, 4 game-winning goals
2023-24 Regular Season Stats — Soo (OHL): 28 games, 18 goals, 22 assists, 112 shots on goal, 4 game-winning goals
2023-24 Postseason Stats — Soo (OHL): 4 games, 3 goals, 4 assists

Hayes put up 76 points in 55 games with a mid-season trade and the World Juniors to deal with. His 37 total goals were tied for 12th in the OHL this season and he’s continued to be a clutch performer in the postseason. He put 112 shots on goal in only 28 games with Soo after the trade.

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

Ht: 6-1 Wt: 185
Shoots: Left
Acquired: 2nd round (No. 57) — 2022 NHL Draft* (pick acquired from Minnesota in MA Fleury trade)
2023-24 Stats: 39 games, 12 goals, 24 assists, 74 shots on net, 50.4 FO %

Since Jan. 1, Greene has won 51 percent of his faceoffs and has had some clutch moments for Boston University in the Hockey East tournament and on the road to the Frozen Four. He’ll play against Aidan Thompson and Denver in this week’s national semifinal game. He’s been nearly a point-per-game player as a true sophomore. It will be interesting to see if he signs this summer; he has good size and might be ready for the professional ranks.

6. Sam Rinzel, RHD, Minnesota (Big Ten)

Ht: 6-4 Wt: 175
Shoots: Right
Acquired: 1st round (No. 25) — 2022 NHL Draft* (pick acquired from Toronto in Mrazek trade)
2023-24 Stats: 38 games, 2 goal, 26 assists, 74 shots on goal, 47 blocked shots

Rinzel’s development as a defenseman has been great this season at Minnesota. He looked good at the World Juniors and had a really good second half of the season offensively. The questions were about how his defensive game would progress; he was drafted in the first round as a bit of a reach because of his size and skating ability. He was named to the All-Big Ten Second Team and Big Ten All-Freshman Team.

7. Nick Lardis, RW, Brantford Bulldogs (OHL)

Ht: 5-11 Wt: 168
Shoots: Left
Acquired: 3rd round (No. 67) — 2023 NHL Draft
2023-24 Regular Season Stats: 37 games, 29 goals, 21 assists, 171 shots on net, 3 game-winning goals
2023-24 Postseason Stats: 6 games, 4 goals, 4 assists

Lardis missed because of a wrist injury, but was one of the Blackhawks’ most productive prospects before the injury. He made a triumphant return in time for Game One of the OHL playoffs, scoring the game’s first two goals and adding an assist for a three-point effort. He looks like the goods, folks. The Hawks may have found a steal in the third round last year. He signed his entry-level contract on April 3.

8. Landon Slaggert, LW, Blackhawks (NHL)

Ht: 6-0 Wt: 191
Shoots: Left
Acquired: 3rd round (No. 79) — 2020 NHL Draft
2023-24 Stats: 26 games, 16 goals, 9 assists, 65 shots on goal, 18 blocked shots

I’m including Slaggert still in prospect rankings at the end of the season because he’s still a first-year pro at this point, even if that “first year” is only a handful of games. He looks like he belongs in the NHL, and I would love for him to stick on the line with Jason Dickinson and Joey Anderson next year (assuming the Hawks bring Anderson back).

9. Wyatt Kaiser, LHD, Blackhawks (NHL)

Ht: 5-11 Wt: 190
Shoots: Left
Acquired: 3rd round (No. 81) — 2020 NHL Draft* (pick acquired from Calgary in Gustafsson trade)
2023-24 Rockford Stats: 31 games, 3 goals, 12 assists
2023-24 Chicago Stats: 32 games, 7 assists, 46 blocked shots

Kaiser did everything the Blackhawks asked of him during his time in Rockford and returned to the NHL a more confident player — much like the one we saw close out the 2022-23 season in Chicago after finishing his collegiate career. His play has been good enough that he’s a legit consideration for the NHL roster out of camp next year, and will hopefully stick around for a full season. He was assigned back to Rockford on April 8 for a playoff run.

10. Nolan Allan, LHD, Rockford IceHogs (AHL)

Ht: 6-2 Wt: 193
Shoots: Left
Acquired: 1st round (No. 32) — 2021 NHL Draft* (pick acquired from Columbus in S. Jones trade)
2023-24 Stats: 60 games, 5 goal, 12 assists, 2 game-winning goals

Allan’s first professional season has been overshadowed by Del Mastro’s in Rockford, but he’s been solid for the IceHogs. Unfortunately, Allan is expected to miss the last three weeks of the regular season because of a lower-body injury. The Blackhawks’ pipeline is loaded on the back end so he’ll likely be in line for a second season in Rockford next year with more responsibility. He’s played both sides this year.

11. Aidan Thompson, C, Denver (NCHC)

Ht: 5-11 Wt: 180
Shoots: Left
Acquired: 3rd round (No. 90) — 2022 NHL Draft* (pick acquired from Calgary in Zadorov trade)
2023-24 Stats: 42 games, 11 goals, 19 assists, 89 shots on goal, 51.5 FO %

Since the start of February, Thompson has four goals and seven assists in 16 games. He’s played mostly the second-line center spot for Denver, who will face BU in the Frozen Four. He’s been a reliable faceoff guy and plays a complete game. He likely projects as a bottom-six player, but his defensive responsibility with some offense makes him an interesting prospect. He turned 22 in February and was an over-age draft pick. He has 62 points in 74 games over two collegiate seasons.

12. 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)
2023-24 Regular Season Stats: 60 games, 23 goals, 46 assists, 131 shots on net, 52.3% FO, 2 short-handed goals, 7 game-winning goals
2023-24 Postseason Stats: 5 games, 2 goals, 4 assists

After a disappointing, injury-plagued post-draft season, Ludwinski bounced back with a stellar season for Kingston. He is expected to join Rockford after his postseason ended, but he played well before the elimination. Ludwinski was voted one of the better skaters in the Eastern Conference by the OHL coaches this season. He already has an entry-level contract signed and will be with the IceHogs next year.

13. Adam Gajan, G, Green Bay Gamblers (USHL)

Ht: 6-3 Wt: 180
Acquired: 2nd round (No. 35) — 2023 NHL Draft
2023-24 Stats: 41 games, 23-12-4, .893 save percentage, 3.37 goals against average

Gajan was very good for Slovakia in the WJC again, but their tournament ended early. He was one of the busiest goaltenders in the USHL this season; his 2,383 minutes and 1,249 shots faced both ranked third among all goaltenders this season. He’s headed to Minnesota-Duluth next season where he’ll get at least a couple seasons to work on his game.

14. Samuel Savoie, LW, Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL)

Ht: 5-10 Wt: 190
Shoots: Left
Acquired: 3rd round (No. 81) — 2022 NHL Draft* (pick acquired from Vegas in pick swap)
2023-24 Stats: 21 games, 12 goals, 10 assists

After a potentially devastating injury during training camp, Savoie returned with a fabulous stretch run for Rouyn-Noranda in which he was a point-per-game player in the QMJHL. He still plays with an edge, but he limited his PIM to 23 in 21 games this season. He’s already signed and will be in Rockford next season.

15. Drew Commesso, G, Rockford IceHogs (AHL)

Ht: 6-2 Wt: 180
Acquired: 2nd round (No. 46) — 2020 NHL Draft* (pick acquired from Vegas in M. Subban trade)
2023-24 Stats: 34 games, 15-15-4, .906 save percentage, 2.66 goals against average, 2 shutouts

Commesso has been very impressive in the second half of the season for Rockford as the IceHogs have improved across the board. His goals against and save percentage have both been up nicely as he works thru his first professional season. When the Blackhawks signed Petr Mrazek to a two-year extension it indicated they’ll likely run it back with Mrazek and Arvid Söderblom in Chicago next year, buying Commesso another year to develop in the AHL.

16. Colton Dach, W, Rockford IceHogs (AHL)

Ht: 6-4 Wt: 205
Shoots: Left
Acquired: 2nd round (No. 62) — 2021 NHL Draft* (pick acq. from Vegas in pick swap)
2023-24 Stats: 41 games, 10 goals, 11 assists, 87 shots on goal, 2 game-winning goals

Another season that’s been tough for Dach because of injuries has been productive when he’s been able to be on the ice as a first-year pro. He is probably the only true power forward in the Blackhawks’ system with a contract right now, but his trouble staying in the lineup will remain a concern. I’d like to see more of him in the preseason against NHL player this fall.

17. Martin Misiak, C, Erie Otters (OHL)

Ht: 6-2 Wt: 200
Shoots: Left
Acquired: 2nd round (No. 55) — 2023 NHL Draft* (pick acquired from CBJ in S. Jones trade)
2023-24 Regular Season Stats: 60 games, 23 goals, 24 assists, 187 shots on net, 49.8% FO
2023-24 Postseason Stats: 3 games, 1 goal, 14 shots on net

Misiak was the No. 1 pick in the import draft after the Blackhawks selected him in the second round of the NHL draft his past summer. His season had some ups and downs to it, and he missed a few playoff games. He’ll likely get another season in the OHL; he had a solid first season on North American ice for Erie but needs more work.

18. Roman Kantserov, RW, Metallurg Magnitogorsk (KHL)

Ht: 5-9 Wt: 176
Shoots: Left
Acquired: 2nd round (No. 44) — 2023 NHL Draft* (pick acquired from OTT in Zaitsev trade)
2023-24 Regular Season Stats: 53 games, 8 goals, 7 assists
2023-24 Postseason Stats: 15 games, 3 goals, 5 assists

Kantserov signed a two-year extension in the KHL during this season, meaning he’s under contract there thru the 2025-26 season. That’s a big factor in where I have him ranked; there’s no guarantee he comes over, and the Blackhawks don’t have great history of getting players to join the club after drafting them (they didn’t draft Artemi Panarin). He’s a dynamic player who spent the entire season in the KHL as a teenager but he isn’t the biggest wing.

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

Ht: 6-3 Wt: 205
Shoots: Left
Acquired: 6th round (No. 172) — 2021 NHL Draft
2023-24 Regular Season Stats: 67 games, 13 goals, 7 assists
2023-24 Postseason Stats: 5 games, 1 goal, 1 assist

Unlike Kantserov, Safonov has only one year remaining on his KHL contract and might be willing to jump to the NHL if he’s guaranteed NHL ice time. He has really good size and would be 24 if he comes over for the 2025-26 NHL season. The Blackhawks don’t have a center with his size in the system so he’s at least intriguing, but we’re still in wait-and-see mode with him.

20. Ryder Rolston, W, Rockford IceHogs (AHL)

Ht: 6-2 Wt: 185
Acquired: via trade from Colorado for Carl Soderberg (2021)
Shoots: Right
2023-24 Stats: 56 games, 10 goals, 8 assists, 100 shots on net

Rolston has good size and plays with a lot of speed. Before the season, Chicago’s coaches talked about his game maybe translating better at the pro level than it did during his time at Notre Dame. He’s missed a few games this season as a first-year pro but the speed game is evident. I’d like to see him get some run against NHL players during the preseason this fall as well.

Honorable Mention

Jiri Felcman, F
Dominic James, C
Alex Pharand, F
Antti Saarela, F
Isaak Phillips, LHD
Victor Stjernborg, F

written by

Tab Bamford has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks for almost two decades. He joined Bleacher Nation as the lead Blackhawks writer in May 2022. Tab is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association and is the author of two books about the Blackhawks: "100 Things Blackhawks Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die" (Triumph Books) and "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter/X/Instagram/Threads at @The1Tab

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