As was introduced on Friday, The-Rink is taking an in-depth look at the Chicago Blackhawks’ prospect pool. However, unlike many other outlets that rank prospects in list form, The-Rink will be using tiers to express the quality of each prospect and their potential at the NHL level. Throughout August, The-Rink will reveal the tiers in reverse order, starting at the lowest tier and working toward the top.
Our series kicks off today with tier six, defined as a prospect seen as an organizational depth player or goalie with little to no chance to play in the NHL.
As explained in the introduction piece, each eligible prospect in the system was rated by our staff panel before ultimately being debated to agree on a tier. Each prospect’s original rating average is listed in parentheses after their name, along with a brief synopsis of why they fell in the tier they did.
Players are listed in order of original rating average, with any ties being sorted alphabetically by last name.
Mathias From (5.333)
To some, From feels like he could be a fourth-liner in the NHL. Others believe he will never even set foot on professional North American ice. From has shown skill in the Blackhawks’ development camps he has attended, but not enough to put himself in a higher tier. A fifth-round pick in 2016, From tallied 16 points in 45 games last season with AIK in Sweden. The Denmark native will join Blackhawks 2014 fourth-round pick Fredrik Olofsson on MODO for the 2019–20 season.
Roope Laavainen (5.333)
Laavainen is an intriguing piece within the prospect pool because the organization seems to think he can be a player moving forward. While one member of our panel felt similarly, thinking Laavainen could be a bottom-pairing NHL defenseman in the future, the majority did not see anything to justify a spot on a higher tier. The 2017 fourth-rounder will return to play with HPK in Finland this season.
Ryan Shea (5.333)
The 2015 fourth-rounder has been a steady presence for Northeastern University in his three seasons with the Huskies, the first two of which he played with Dylan Sikura. Shea will return to Northeastern for his senior season, where he will captain the Huskies. Should the Blackhawks choose to sign Shea in the future, he would likely have to jump a number of other young defensemen in the system for a shot at playing in the NHL.
Parker Foo (5.5)
The Blackhawks are likely hoping Foo can follow in the footsteps of his older brother, Spencer, in becoming a good-looking prospect who had success at the collegiate level, but until further notice, the 2017 fifth-rounder might have nothing more than a future in the minor leagues. Foo will return to Union College this fall for his junior season after posting 15 points in 35 games as a sophomore with the Dutchmen.
Jake Ryczek (5.5)
Ryczek will turn pro this season after spending two years playing for the Halifax Mooseheads in the QMJHL. While he could still develop into a serviceable player, 2019 first-round pick Kirby Dach did nothing to help Ryczek’s cause at this year’s development camp, making the 2016 seventh-rounder look more like a pylon than a future NHL defenseman. Ryczek would also have to jump over a glut of other young defensemen to get his shot at the NHL level, which seems unlikely.
Nathan Noel (5.667)
A fourth-round pick in 2016, Noel has struggled to put up numbers since turning pro in 2017, scoring just seven goals and adding 11 assists in 84 games split between the Rockford IceHogs and Indy Fuel. At this point, Noel, who struggled to stay healthy last season, will likely be nothing more than a depth player in the minors.
Graham Knott (5.833)
Needless to say, Knott looks to be among the biggest disappointments in the Blackhawks’ prospect pool since Kyle Beach. Originally a second-round pick in 2015, Knott has scored just eight goals in 126 professional games over two seasons with the Rockford IceHogs. Short of a miraculous turnaround, it would be safe to write off any chance of Knott making it to the NHL moving forward.