Chicago Blackhawks NCAA Prospects: Final Grades


With the college hockey season over with, The-Rink has put together final grades for all of the Blackhawks prospects

It was a pretty fun year following the NCAA prospects throughout the 2017-18 season.  I got to meet a lot of them and can say that the Blackhawks have a knack for drafting high character young men.  Now one year removed from the 2017 prospect camp, I’m excited to see what these kids can do together and what they’ve improved on over the past year.

I think the key with all of these guys is that there is opportunity for everybody.  Each player is one year older now, and whether they’re moving on to the pros or getting more responsibility in college, their games have evolved.

Thanks everybody for following along with my updates and we will have more for you including a Draft recap of all the new college committed players that come into the Hawks system.

Updates on Blackhawks NCAA Prospects

Evan Barratt – C – Freshman at Penn State University – ‘17 3rd Rd Pick 

Bristol, PA – 6’0″ – 187lbs – Shoots Left – U.S. National Development Team (USHL), @BarrattEvan

Stats:  32GP, 11G, 7A

Barratt had a slow start getting used to college hockey production wise, but he really finished the season strong.  The Nittany Lions won five games in a row towards the end of the season including four-consecutive home games against the University of Minnesota which Barratt played a big role in.  In the Frozen Four tournament, the Nittany Lions had a tough draw with the University of Denver, but there is no doubt they be back soon.

Barratt showed a lot of promise on special teams scoring six powerplay goals this season.  With a year of college hockey under his belt, Barratt seems to be on the right track especially playing in Penn State’s high-octane offense.  The Daily Collegian believes Barratt can take over as the face of Penn State Men’s Hockey.

Final Grade:  B

Liam Coughlin – C – Junior at University of Vermont – ’14 5th Rd Pick (EDM)

South Boston, MA – 6’2″ – 201lbs – Shoots Left – Vernon Vipers (USHL), @Liam_Coughlin7

Stats:  34GP, 6G, 10A

Liam Coughlin showed a lot of maturity this season, even though Vermont had a down year.  As a player that had previously produced around 12 points, Coughlin seemed to make every one of his 16 points count this season.  Although his first half was quiet, he scored 11 of his 16 points in his final 13 games including a hat-trick against UMass-Lowell.

Coughlin will return to Vermont for his senior season, but hopefully not before he attends Blackhawks prosepct camp.  His size is intriguing along with flashes of playmaking ability.  It will be interesting what he brings this year in front of the ‘Hawks front office team.

Final Grade:  B-

Josh Ess – RD – Freshman at the University of Wisconsin – ’17 7th Rd Pick

Lakeville, MN – 5’11” – 188lbs – Shoots Left – Cedar Rapids RoughRiders (USHL), @JoshuaEss

Current Stats:  33GP, 2G, 2A

If you just look at Ess’ point production from this past year, you would probably assume he didn’t have a good season.  But if you look closer and consider a couple of other external factors, the Lakeville Minnesota product had a positive freshman year at Wisconsin.  The Frozen Four consisted of four BigTen schools in Ohio State, Notre Dame, and Michigan.  These were all teams Ess went up against regularly, yet he still maintained a plus/minus of +10.

Ess’ only had 34 shots on goal this season, but that’s characteristic of many freshman who chose to defer to older teammates to earn their respect.  Ess will enter his sophomore season with more responsibility and experience, and his defensive unit will get a huge boost from freshman K’Andre Miller from the US Development program.  Ess should play a bigger role next season and beyond.

Final Grade:  B-

Parker Foo – LW – Freshman at Union College – ’17 5th Rd Pick

Edmonton, Alberta – 6’1″ – 190lbs – Shoots Left – Brooks Bandits (AJHL), @pfoo22

Current Stats:  33GP, 1G, 5A

The ECAC was no cakewalk this year to play in with Clarkson, Cornell, and Harvard, but Union hung in there and finished 2nd in the standings.  Parker Foo surprisingly only scored one goal, but there have to be more coming in his second year at Union.  Foo’s minutes were limited yet he still managed to put almost 60 shots on net his season.  He will have to add more aggressiveness and confidence to his repertoire, along with his already great speed.

Final Grade:  C

Dennis Gilbert – LD – Junior at the University of Notre Dame – ’15 3rd Rd Pick

Williamsville, NY – 6’2″ – 200lbs – Shoots Left – Chicago Steel (USHL), @Dennis_Gilbert8

Current Stats:  39GP, 4G, 6A

Gilbert had another great season on the back-end with Notre Dame.  After going to the Frozen Four in 2017, the Fighting Irish were thought to take a big step back with the loss of Anders Bjork and Cal Petersen, but they did the opposite.  They were one of the nations top teams all year with a great defense.

At 6’2 200lbs., Gilbert may be just what the Blackhawks need.  He plays a safe, but physical game.  Defensemen don’t need to be flashy, they just need to be plugged in and soak up valuable minutes without being heard.  Gilbert could be this and more.

Final Grade:  A

Blake Hillman – LD – Junior at the University of Denver – ’16 6th Rd Pick

Elk River, MN – 6’1″ – 182lbs – Shoots Left – Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL), @Blake_Hillman8

Current Stats:  41GP, 3G, 9A

We got to see a little of what defenseman Blake Hillman has to offer when he spent the final two weeks with the Blackhawks.  He played in four NHL games and had one goal that was an absolute bomb set up by Nick Schmaltz on the rush.

What I know about Hillman is that he has the tools to get a great defenseman, and hopefully he can get some quality experience in the pros to enhance those skills.  He has great hands and can skate very well.  One thing that he had trouble with in college was his shot selection and situational awareness.  Some may call it “gripping the stick too hard,” but he really wanted to consistently make plays for the Pioneers.  He can be a high risk/high reward type player, but I believe IceHogs head coach Jeremy Colliton can get a lot out of this kid and hopefully get him to the next level.

Final Grade:  B+

Chad Krys – LD – Sophomore at Boston University – ’16 2nd Rd Pick

Ridgefield, CT – 6’0″ – 185lbs – Shoots Left – US National Development Team (USHL)

Current Stats:  36GP, 7G, 20A

Chad Krys has the skills and ability to be a serious game-changer at the pro level, considering he’s already doing it in college.  Krys had five multi-point games this season, and it’s unlikely to not see his name on the Boston Terriers’ score sheet.  Krys will return for his junior year at BU and will be a leader for the Terriers.  As he continues to develop mentally and physically, this is a player Blackhawks’ fans should keep their eye on.  There are a lot of defensive prospects in the system, but very few players the Hawks need more to work out than Krys.

Final Grade:  A

Jake Massie – LD – Freshman at the University of Vermont – ’15 6th Rd Pick (CAR)

Saint-Lazare, Quebec – 6’2″ – 177lbs – Shoots Left – Omaha Lancers, @JakeMassie3

Current Stats:  2936, 2G, 5A

Jake Massie had a similar freshman year as Josh Ess did at Wisconsin.  His point production wasn’t much, but Massie had much less help on offense in a very tough Hockey East Conference.  Vermont had a hard time scoring and ended up losing 20 games last season.  Despite the poor season for Vermont, Massie finished the season with a plus/minus of -2 while he gained a lot of experience in his first year of college hockey.  Let’s see how he responds in his sophomore season.

Final Grade:  C+

Ian Mitchell – RD – Freshman at the University of Denver – ’17 2nd Rd Pick

Calahoo, Alberta – 5’11” – 173lbs – Shoots Right – Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL), @IanMitch15

Current Stats:  41GP, 2G, 28A

Could a young hockey player ask to be put in a better situation than what Ian Mitchell fell into at Denver?  He played his first year of college hockey under the 2017 coach of the year, in front of the goalie of the year, and with an already established defensive unit.  Yet Mitchell still excelled in his own way.  Going into the season, Mitchell was known for his offensive game, but vowed to focus more on defense and whatever he was asked to do by head coach Jim Montgomery.

Mitchell was given the keys to a Cadillac of a powerplay at Denver featuring now-NHL players Troy Terry, Dylan Gambrell, and Henrik Borgstrom.  He thrived quarterbacking and facilitating from the point, and also became much more aggressive in the second half of the season.  Mitchell will be leaned on heavily next season with the loss of Blake Hillman and Tariq Hammond, but his character matches that of a vocal leader.  His development and confidence took a huge leap this season under Montgomery.

Final Grade:  A

Fredrik Olofsson –  C – Junior at University of Nebraska-Omaha – ’14 4th Rd Pick

Broomfield, Colorado – 6’2″ – 204lbs – Shoots Right – Chicago Steel (USHL), @FreddyOlofsson

Current Stats:  33GP, 6G, 14A

Olofsson had a good start to the year, but didn’t have any points in his final five games.  It’s possible he was dealing with an injury or it was just tough matchups with Minnesota-Duluth and North Dakota.  As a player that switched over from wing to center this season, Olofsson handled the added responsibility well.  He distributed the puck fluidly, looked stronger on his skates, and grew his two-way game.  He also won a lot of puck battles in the corners for Omaha.  Returning for his senior season, Olofsson should show a lot of progress on the ice and as a leader.

Final Grade:  B-

Jack Ramsey – RW – Junior at the University of Minnesota – ’11 7th Rd Pick

Chanhassen, MN – 6’3″ – 201lbs – Shoots Right – Penticton Vees (BCHL), @Ramsey_16

Current Stats:  38GP, 4G, 6A

Ramsey is a player that if he plays his cards right, he can make his way to Chicago.  Some people write him off because of his point production, but the Blackhawks need this kind of player.  Chicago has often been criticized for being a perimeter team and for not having enough players willing to get their hands dirty.  Ramsey is this guy.

At 6’3 200 pounds, Ramsey can throw his weight around if he wants.  And with former St. Cloud State Huskies head coach Bob Motzko coaching the Gophers next season, Ramsey will hopefully embrace his physical style.  Ramsey is due for a big season next year.

Final Grade:  C

Ryan Shea – LD – Sophomore at Northeastern University – ’15 4th Rd Pick

Milton, MA – 6’1″ – 180lbs – Shoots Left – Youngstown Phantoms (USHL), @RyanShea2

Current Stats:  38GP, 1G, 16A

Ryan Shea is also due for a big test next season.  With some big scorers like Adam Gaudette and Dylan Sikura leaving for the NHL, Shea will have a lot more responsibility as an upper-classman.  He has so far proven he is a durable and reliable defenseman who can set up his team mates well.  But in a Blackhawks system that’s full of budding defensemen, he may want to take his time like Sikura did to develop in college and come out when he’s 100% ready.

Final Grade:  B-

Dylan Sikura – LW – Senior at Northeastern University – ’14 6th Rd Pick

Aurora, Ontario – 6’0″ – 166lbs – Shoots Left – Aurora Tigers (OJHL), @Dsikky11

Current Stats:  35GP, 22G, 32A 

Sikura had a Hobey Baker-like season, even though his linemate Adam Gaudette came home with the hardware.  It was clear that he excelled in every area of the college game and that he is ready for a new challenge.  Blackhawks fans could finally breathe knowing he signed his entry-level contract and hopefully that’s not the last contract he signs in Chicago.

In five games playing with the Blackhawks, we saw that he could definitely keep up with the pace.  He even collected three points in those five games.  But like any other college kid, he’ll need to put on some weight this summer and come into training camp aggressive.  There are a lot of young players with their eyes on spots in Chicago, especially guys who have done their time in Rockford.  But Mr. DeBrincat showed us that making the team as a rookie isn’t impossible.

Final Grade:  A

Beau Starrett – C – Junior at Cornell University – 2014 3rd Rd Pick

Bellingham, MA – 6’5′ – 222lbs – Shoots Left – South Shore Kings (USPHL), @Beau_Dangles

Current Stats:  32GP, 3G, 7A

Starrett will return to Cornell for his senior season, but he has to come out of it with an identity.  Because of his size, he’s assumed to play big but I’m not sure that’s his style right now.  His point production in college has been low, even though I remember him skating and passing pretty well for a big guy.  I’m not sure why he isn’t having success when the Big Red is, but something has to change.  The Blackhawks used a 2nd round pick on Graham Knott and a 3rd on Starrett but the returns have been limited.