The Blackhawks began their annual prospect and development camp on Monday at the MB Ice Arena. If you are expecting high intensity scrimmages, this would not be the place to find such competition, but there is certainly some value in seeing just what these players are up to. Some players have gotten bigger or faster and this is the first time we get to see the newest Blackhawks draft picks.
All to be taken with a grain of salt, of course.
As the years have gone on the chance of that next Alexandre Fortin or Collin Delia type player getting signed out of camp is rare, since the Blackhawks have gone to a more prospect intensive format rather than inviting and showcasing a large number of free agents.
Camp is split up into two groups, and the players are put though various on ice drills which eventually leads to the yearly Friday scrimmage.
There were a few observations Eric Andrews and I noticed after the first day:
- Adam Boqvist and Henri Jokiharju are clearly the belles of the ball and rightfully so. They are the most talented defensemen on the entire camp. That said, they are still young and not without flaws. The future is bright for these two kids.
- After Boqvist and Jokiharju, defenseman Ian Mitchell continues to impress. He could turn out to be the absolute steal of the 2017 draft.
- Following a down season last year in Rockford, Alexandre Fortin seems to have regained his wheels. That can only be good for the Icehogs.
- Niklas Nordgren looks smaller on the ice than I had anticipated (big surprise, right?) and got pushed around quite a bit in the contact drills.
- The newest Blackhawks prospect, MacKenzie Entwistle, is a big lumbering kid. I am interested to see if he can be a power forward at the pro level.
- Defenseman Roope Laavainen has some decent size but his foot speed is still in need of help.
- Clearly, Dennis Gilbert and Blake Hillman are trying to use their size to catch the eye of the Blackhawks staff.
- Mathias From has that Phillip Danault look and feel to him. He is listed at 6’1″ but looks taller this year. We could seem him jump to that next level as a legit prospect this year.
- As far as goalies go, Wouter Peeters is an absolute enigma. I still have not seen anything that makes him stand out as a prospect. This summer both Alexis Gravel and free agent invitee Linden Marshall are more noticeable, while Collin Delia out shined him the last two summers. Marshall is my under the radar goalie prospect, so far, this year. Remember that name, because he is likely going to show up somewhere, someday.
- Regarding the few free agents in camp, Kyle Maksimovich is a smaller forward with an edge but the Blackhawks have a bunch of those. Connor Moynihan, on the other hand, has some nice size that could come in useful. It seem strange saying that 209 lbs looks small but he could fill out his frame with another 15-20 lbs.
Check out some photos from day 1, right here: