Hey there, Blackhawks fans! Welcome back to another season of The-Rink Blackhawks coverage. Aside from our coverage of the parent club, we will be bringing you excellent coverage of the farm as well. The Rockford IceHogs will be covered by Mario Tirabassi and the NCAA prospects will be covered by Aaron Goldschmidt. Be sure to check out their linked pieces above!
I get the utmost pleasure of bringing you coverage and updates of the Blackhawks’ prospects in the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) all season long! Last year was a busy year in the CHL, as the likes of Adam Boqvist, Nicholas Beaudin, Philipp Kurashev, and Mikael Hakkarainen were all tearing up either the CHL or USHL. However, all of those players have graduated to the AHL and you can find further coverage on them with Mario. Now, the cupboard is bare in the CHL with only three current prospects across the three leagues—the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), Western Hockey League (WHL) and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL)—that make up the CHL, with a potential fourth, which we will get to.
This article is designed to give you an understanding of what to expect from each of the Blackhawks’ CHL prospects so you are prepared to follow along with our coverage all season!
The Blackhawks’ first fourth-round pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft (105th overall) was originally drafted out of the Czech Republic back in June.
Teply is a big winger, standing 6-foot-3 inches and weighing 187 pounds, with a good shot. He has the potential to become a good scoring wing that provides excellent depth for the Blackhawks. However, he will certainly have to work on his skating. During the Blackhawks’ prospect camp scrimmage this past summer, Teply was sprung on a breakaway only to stop his feet and ultimately get caught from behind by the third overall selection in 2019, Kirby Dach. Teply was never a very strong skater, but that play seemed to reinforce that notion.
Aside from his skating, the most notable growth Teply will need is adjusting to North American ice. After being a mainstay on Czech national teams growing up, he has only ever really played on the much wider European ice. If he hopes to have a successful NHL career, the biggest adjustment in order to accomplish that goal will be transitioning successfully to the smaller, faster North American ice.
Teply was drafted twice this past summer, also being selected in the WHL Import Draft, where he was taken fourth overall by the Winnipeg Ice. Through nine games with the Ice as of Oct. 15, Teply currently leads the team in goals (four) and points (eight), while being tied for second in assists with four. The young Czech winger has, so far, lived up to the hype of his import draft slot.
Teply’s progression during this season in the WHL will be telling of his potential pro future. The WHL is known as a tough league, rarely having 100-point scorers that are not veterans of the league. I am not saying Teply will put up 100 points, but if he can average a point per game or better, that will be beneficial for his development and future outlook within the Blackhawks’ organization.
The seventh-round pick from the Prince George Cougars in the WHL could be poised to become the gem of Stan Bowman’s 2019 draft class. The defenseman has excellent size for his age (6-foot-3, 198 pounds) and possesses good skating ability along with a cannon of a shot from the point.
Moberg is coming off a 40-point campaign in the WHL last season, playing in 61 games. The right-handed defenseman also tallied 13 goals and had five power play points during the campaign. The Blackhawks snatched him up in the seventh round, which could make Moberg a gem in their most recent draft class.
Fellow The-Rink writer Juliana Nikac and I both really like Moberg, as heard on one of our latest episodes of The Rinkcast. I compared Moberg to Jason Garrison, before age caught up to the defenseman. He possessed an excellent shot from the point, similar to Moberg, although I believe Moberg will ultimately be a better skater than Garrison.
In only four games as of Canadian Thanksgiving, Moberg has registered one goal and one assist for the Cougars. Moberg currently sits in ninth for team scoring despite playing half as many games as his teammates.
Keep an eye on Moberg this season in Prince George. He could really surprise a lot of people and be an excellent second or third-pairing defenseman for the Blackhawks down the road.
Goaltender Alexis Gravel is coming off an incredible season with the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL. After being selected in the sixth round of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, Gravel posted a 33-win season for the Mooseheads and another 14 playoff wins, leading the Mooseheads to a QMJHL championship appearance.
Gravel has impressed a lot of people given where he was drafted. After his excellent season last year and a solid showing at prospect camp, Gravel returned to Halifax looking to pick up where he left off.
However, the season did not begin as planned. After two games, Gravel gave up eight goals in just over four periods of play during the Mooseheads’ games on Sept. 20 and 21. After sitting for a few weeks, Gravel started back-to-back games during the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, picking up two wins and only yielding a total of three goals. The second game was the most impressive for Gravel, as he stopped 49 of 50 shots on goal and picked up the big win to make it five straight wins for Halifax.
Gravel is a big goalie, standing at 6-foot-3 inches and 219 pounds. The young netminder has certainly shown promise in Halifax and the potential to be a part of the Blackhawks’ future plans as one of their two goalies. On the low end, he seems like he could be an AHL regular who can spot start as needed. On the high end, conservatively, he could be a backup goalie in the NHL.
Keep an eye on Gravel this season as he looks to replicate, and possibly improve on, his impressive run last year in the QMJHL.
Kirby Dach is most certainly the wildcard of the entire group being previewed. Yes, he is technically still with the Blackhawks, as he is on a rehab stint in Rockford as of Canadian Thanksgiving. However, once Dach gets his nine-game tryout, if the Blackhawks deem he is not ready for the NHL, he would return to the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL where he would likely “bum slay” the competition.
Dach has excellent size, and if able to quickly adjust to the NHL game, could make an impact on the Blackhawks’ roster this season. However, it is likely that he will return to the Blades, at which time, there will be a nice feature on the young center and what to watch for this season.
For now, all fans will be monitoring the situation with Dach, wondering whether he will stick in the NHL all year or return to the WHL and fine tune his game to be an impact piece on the Blackhawks’ roster next season.