Blackhawks’ American Prospects shine in World Junior Championship opener

  

With day one of the World Junior Championship in the books, it’s clear that 2021 1st overall pick Owen Power, stole the show for Team Canada with a hat trick against Czechia in a 6-3 win. For those of you that stayed up later on for the United States’ match-up versus Slovakia, got a brief glimpse of the Chicago Blackhawks’ future. Now to be clear, the Hawk potentials should not be referred to as can’t-miss, blue-chip prospects, but rather chips wearing blue that got off to a great start in a 3-2 win on Sunday night in Red Deer, Elberta.

For starters, all eyes should be on goaltender and 2021 2nd round draft pick, Drew Commesso.  Marc-Andre Fleury has been a fun story for Chicago but in the latter stages of his career, the Hawks goaltending stock is in question. Commesso may eventually check all the boxes of a starting goalie in the NHL and time will tell. For the moment, he is anchoring the defending gold-medal winning Americans in a preview of what may or may not be to come.

Commesso has gotten off to a solid start at Boston University this season, posting a .90 save percentage and a 2.82 goals against average. At the ripe age of 19, his development will take time, but he is the best goaltending prospect the Hawks have had in some time.

On Sunday, Commesso was tested both early and late in the win for the U.S. He notched 27 saves and a .920 save percentage for his first win of the tourney. Should the U.S. make another run towards a gold medal, it is largely on the shoulders of the Norwell, MA native.

Blackhawks prospect, Landon Slaggert is on his second tour of duty with the U.S. in the World Junior tourney and also had a strong start to pool play. Slaggert, the Hawks 3rd round pick in the 2020 entry draft, has five goals and 10 points thus far in his second season with Notre Dame. Slaggert projects as a bottom six forward, and if Hawks fans want to dream of his success, they are looking at another Brandon Hagel type player. Slaggert plays with purpose, is unafraid of traffic and gets to the net.

Slaggert pumped in the American’s third goal, which ultimately turned out to be the game winner. While the U.S. will not be relying on Slaggert for immense offensive production in this tourney, his secondary scoring could be critical, as it was on Sunday.

Another 19-year-old, Wyatt Kaiser, was drafted 81st overall in 2020, two picks after Slaggert. The second-year defenseman at Minnesota-Duluth picked up an assist and had a plus-one rating in Sunday’s win. Kaiser set Slaggert up in front of the net on his game winning marker. Kaiser is a smooth skater, handles the puck well, makes simple plays, and does not get beat often. While his career does not project point production, he is as steady as they come, something the Hawks have been lacking on the back end for some time.

Ultimately, it’s going to be a “wait and see” period for these prospects. That said, Chicago does have some assets playing for the red, white, and blue during the holiday tournament, and their games should be entertaining to follow. The U.S. suits up again on Tuesday at 4:30 (EST) against Switzerland.

Center Ice Forums Blackhawks’ American Prospects shine in World Junior Championship opener

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