Chicago Blackhawks development camp: Day two takeaways

  

Chicago Blackhawks prospect development camp rolled through day two today at Fifth Third Ice Arena in Chicago. After an opening day that saw players like Kirby Dach, Alexander Nylander and Jake Wise stand out from the group, there were a number of players in day two making their own waves as development camp progresses towards Friday’s feature full-team scrimmage.

Blackhawks development camp: Day two takeaways

Day two opened with the highlight group of Team A taking the ice first. Alexis Gravel, a 2018 sixth round pick for the Blackhawks was in net for Team A after missing yesterday’s session. Gravel had a breakout season last year with the Halifax Mooseheads in the QMJHL, helping the Mooseheads to an appearance in the QMJHL Finals and the Memorial Cup Final, which was held in Halifax. Gravel is the most senior of the goalies in camp this week as far as Blackhawks development camp appearances with two. He will return to Halifax this season for what looks to be his final year of junior hockey.

Off the ice, the Blackhawks made a long-anticipated trade during the first session, trading Artem Anisimov to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Zack Smith. The move is not a huge upgrade on paper as far as production and usage goes, but will save the Blackhawks $1.3 million in cap space for the next two seasons.

“He’s a versatile player,” said Blackhawks General Manager Stan Bowman on acquiring Smith. “He’s played wing and center, which we like. He plays with an edge. He has some years in the past where he has scored a lot. The thing we like about him is his versatility.”

Bowman added that he believes that Smith brings a competitiveness and edge that the Blackhawks lacked last season. Smith has played 612 NHL games in his career, all with the Senators.

Getting back to the action on the ice at development camp, missing from Team A’s workout was Jake Wise, who skated in a non-contact sweater the day prior. Instead, Wise skated with Team B for day two. Forwards Kirby Dach, Philipp Kurashev and Alexander Nylander were again standouts during the session. Dach showed more of his agile skating ability for a player of his frame, which is a promising sign early on in his development. Kurashev and Nylander’s speed and accuracy with the puck were on display for the second day in a row, as was Brandon Hagel’s. The depth of the forward group in the prospect system was lacking heading into this summer, and so far, through the draft, trades and offseason development, looks to have become one of the strengths of the farm system for Chicago.

Defensemen Nicolas Beaudin, Adam Boqvist and Alex Vlasic again were focal points of the early session. Vlasic’s ability to skate well for his size, much like with Dach, was on display and should bode well for a player who hopes to be on the trajectory of a pre-2016 Brent Seabrook type of player. Chad Krys put on a decent shooting display that get a number of “oohs” and “aahs” from the crowd at the Fifth Third Ice Arena as well.

Following the first session, Ian Mitchell met with Blackhawks media and was again asked about his plans as it pertained to playing for Denver University this year. He reiterated his intentions to return to school for his junior season and then sign with the Blackhawks once the Pioneers’ season is finished.

Beaudin and Vlasic also spoke with the media following day two of camp. Both spoke on their abilities to get by the initial jitters of coming into camp for the first time. Beaudin, in his second development camp, says he feels that his game has progressed from being an offensive-style defenseman to a more complete, two-way player on the blueline. He added that his best strength is his skating, but that he can always work on being quicker.

Speaking of skating, Vlasic spoke about his abilities to play at the top-tier pace. For a 6-foot-6 defenseman in an ever-quickening game, he knows that his skating is going to be something he will always have to work on. Vlasic also stated that he plans on heading to Boston University for at least two years and then will figure out his direction from there.

Daily one-on-one: Josiah Slavin

Following the conclusion of day two of Blackhawks development camp, we were able to catch up with Blackhawks prospect Josiah Slavin. A seventh round pick for Chicago in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, Slavin is headed for Colorado College this fall after completing three seasons in the USHL with the Lincoln Stars and Chicago Steel.

On the difference between his first camp last year and being prepared for his second camp:

“It’s a different mindset this year compared to last year. I’m mentally prepared for it this time, so it feels good to be out skating with the guys again.”

Is the biggest difference from last year just knowing what to expect?

“Yeah, last year I had no idea what to expect going into it. I knew it was going to be hard but I didn’t know how hard it would be. So, going into camp and knowing what to expect makes it more enjoyable and easier to just have fun out there.”

On going through a trade last year from Lincoln to “Chicago”:

“I came downtown once, visited the area and did some shopping, but Geneva is not really Chicago. It’s a little bit away; it’s quite different. But, being in Chicago was awesome and being with the Steel trying to win the Clark Cup was a great experience.”

On being named captain in Lincoln and maturing as a player:

“At the junior level, you are just beginning to develop your leadership skills and develop as a leader. So being named captain was awesome and I definitely grew a lot as a player and as a person. It was challenging at times, but it also had its perks.”

On moving on to Colorado College next season:

“I’m just going to try to go out and do my thing and work hard. I know it’s going to be harder than the USHL. It’s a big jump, but I’m going to do what I can and control what I can and work hard.”

Older brother Jaccob Slavin (Carolina) also played for the Steel and attended Colorado College, what advice has he given you through your career?

“He’s been through it all. He’s been giving me pointers here and there and helping me focus on the right things, making sure I’m doing the right things off the ice.”

On the Blackhawks’ expectations for him in camp:

“They’re always giving us direction and pointers about what we are doing out there: What we’re doing well, what we need to work on. So, it’s always good to have them there to help us throughout camp.”

On what he is specifically working on to improve this summer:

“I’m not the prettiest skater, so I always need to work on that. You can never have too perfect of a stride, so just focusing on that. I have speed, but I just need to keep working on the prettiness of it.”

 

More tomorrow on The-Rink!

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