With all levels of hockey in full swing in mid-November, The Hockey News took a look at the top prospects in hockey with a recent past issue. Kirby Dach (22) and Lukas Reichel (81) were the only Chicago Blackhawks ranked amongst the top 100 players under 21 years of age. As any fan knows, we need to take these rankings with a grain of salt, but we can also be alarmed by the lack of high-end talent in the system. We can also be alarmed by not having a first-round pick in last season’s draft and may end up without a first-round pick in the upcoming 2022 NHL Entry Draft.
With that being said, here is a quick look at how the top prospects are performing in their respective leagues.
The Rockford IceHog netted a hat trick on Nov. 7 against the Manitoba Moose and continues to impress in the early season in the AHL. The German-born forward has produced six goals and nine points in 10 games. As a 19-year-old learning the professional game on this side of the pond, there should be no rush in his development. With Stan Bowman gone, he will likely play big minutes against men in the AHL and see a “cup of coffee” toward the end of the Blackhawks’ season.
The 22-year-old center has found his way into seven games for the IceHogs this season, netting one goal and two assists. The Bristol, Pennsylvania, native brings an energy to his game that a bottom line in the NHL would like to see. Barratt’s overall skills will not “wow” anyone, but he could be a call-up over Reese Johnson moving forward this season for the Blackhawks.
The 18-year-old brother of Blackhawks’ forward Kirby Dach has produced since being moved to the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League. Dach is pacing the Rockets at a point per game and has six goals in 11 games. At 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, he should be able to find some space for himself and continue to use his shooting skills to impress in the WHL.
Slavin continues to impress in Rockford this season and has been a wild-card favorite of this author since watching him skate in the USHL for the Chicago Steel. The Erie, Colorado, native and younger brother of Carolina Hurricanes standout blue liner Jaccob Slavin has three goals and four assists for the IceHogs and continues to show he can use his 6-foot-3 frame to his advantage all over the ice. Slavin should be a call-up this season or next if the 22-year-old continues to show he can be effective in all areas of the ice.
With no first-round pick last season because of the Seth Jones trade, Bowman reached for the 18-year-old stay-at-home defenseman has been a steady rock this season for the Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League. Allan is not expected to find himself on the scoresheet much, but needs to continue to hone is skills in the defensive end as a suffocating defenseman that is difficult to play against.
The shine is starting to wear off on the defenseman, as Beaudin has struggled in six games in Rockford this season and looked over-matched in his time playing against NHL-caliber players. The former first-round pick in 2018 needs to show he can play defense against the best in the world and not just rely on his offensive talents he showed at a young age. Fans should not be surprised if he gets passed up on the next call-up to the NHL.
Much like Beaudin, Mitchell needs to continue to show he can play against the top players in the world. In eight games in Rockford, Mitchell is a -5 and continues to look indecisive on his reads and plays defensively. In the NHL for 42 games already, one would hope that former bench boss Jeremy Colliton was not developing the the 174-pound defenseman, but the shine is wearing off on Mitchell, too.
The Norwell, Massachusetts, native is off to a 4–5–1 start for the Terriers of Boston University. The 6-foot-2 goaltender has taken the brunt off the struggles of the team early on with his 3.17 goals against average and .891 save percentage. The 19-year-old has time to turn the early season struggles around and help his team make a push in the Hockey East.