Ranking the Chicago Blackhawks’ Top Five NCAA Prospects

  

With the fall semester just around the corner, it’s finally time to start talking college hockey again!  I’m really excited to see what some newcomers bring to the table this season as well as how other players will build on their great seasons from last year.  A lot of the guys that we evaluated on this blog last year will most likely get some looks at the NHL level including Blake Hillman, Dennis Gilbert, and Dylan Sikura.  Whether they’re playing for Joel Quenneville or Jeremy Colliton, they’ll be in good hands to compete at the highest level.

Once the NCAA season officially kicks off this fall, we will get back to posting weekly roundups on our blog and on twitter recapping production and progress from all the Hawks’ NCAA players.  But right now, we wanted to rank the top five players at the collegiate level.  There is a good mix of lower and upperclassmen playing in several conferences of college hockey this year so it should be a blast.

Let’s get started.

Chicago Blackhawks’ Top Five NCAA Prospects

Ranking the Chicago Blackhawks' Top Five NCAA Prospects

5.  Jake Wise – Forward, Boston University

I didn’t plan on having Wise crack this list, but his prospect camp performance and upside made it a tough decision.  Drafted this year in the third round, Wise is coming off a couple seasons playing in the US National Development program.  He will be attending Boston University this fall, joining a hockey program that has been dominant in years past.

Wise’s numbers show he’s a play-making center and he put that on display this summer at prospect camp.  His speed and hands were the topic of conversation over the summer earning him a reputation of potentially being the Blackhawks’ “steal of the draft.”  Wise will be spending his weekends playing tough opponents such as the Northeastern Huskies and the Boston College Eagles, but hopefully fellow Blackhawks prospect and junior at BU Chad Krys can help him ease into the transition.  Wise will also be surrounded by a great forward group featuring Bobo Carpenter, Shane Bowers, and Patrick Harper.

Ranking the Chicago Blackhawks' Top Five NCAA Prospects

4.  Fredrik Olofsson – Forward, University of Nebraska-Omaha

Although Olofsson’s numbers don’t blow you out of the water, he was one of the most polished players that I got to see play last year.  Qualities like speed and size stick out immediately to the naked eye of a spectator, but hockey sense is blaring to those who watch a lot of hockey.  Olofsson showed a lot of maturity and poise last season, and could be on the verge of a breakout season.

The Broomfield Colorado-native could have signed pro but decided to go back to college for his senior year.  The Mavericks will be much improved from last season when they went 17-17-2, and they could turn the tide on other powerhouses in the NCHC like Minnesota-Duluth and the University of Denver.  Now that he is more familiar playing the center position, this season is huge for Olofsson to prove he’s worthy of a pro contract, and the Hawks could really use a player like Freddy.

Ranking the Chicago Blackhawks' Top Five NCAA Prospects

3.  Evan Barratt – Forward, Penn State University

Evan Barratt may be one of the most exciting Blackhawks prospects to watch this season.  Adding 18 points in 32 games, Barratt had a solid season for a freshman and really started to thrive in the Nittany Lion’s system towards the end of the season.  His frame and size resemble a former Blackhawk that show an intriguing comparison;  Dave Bolland.  Bolland was an absolute pain in the rear to play against but he also had great skill.  Not to mention his goals were as scrappy as they come.  If Barratt can continue to score and be scrappy, he may find his niche to get his ticket to Chicago someday.

Penn State and their run-and-gun style of play should take a huge step this season and Barratt could be at the forefront of that.  The Big Ten is set to be a difficult conference again this fall, but don’t look past what kind of noise Penn State could make.  If Barratt can find his was past the 30-35 point mark with some extra ice time this season, he could really show some serious positive strides.

Ranking the Chicago Blackhawks' Top Five NCAA Prospects

2.  Chad Krys – Defenseman, Boston University

The is no doubt defenseman Chad Krys has skill, but the question is where he fits into the Blackhawks future plans on the blue line.  In a system that was once dried up of defensive prospects, it now may rank in the top ten NHL-wide.  Krys has the competition of several prospects at the AHL level above him, and top draft picks below him in the junior ranks.  Of course all he will say is that he needs to focus on himself, but we all know his season will have to do the talking for him.

The Blackhawks want to see more physicality and ability to retrieve pucks and exit cleanly from Krys.  It’s no secret he can skate better than most that he’s on the ice with, but this season will be a focus on his ability to keep pucks out of the net.  The next year or two will most likely have a few prospects on the move to make roster spots and Krys will have to do his best to show he’s worth the wait.

Ranking the Chicago Blackhawks' Top Five NCAA Prospects

1.  Ian Mitchell – Defenseman, The University of Denver

Defenseman Ian Mitchell is becoming one of the most decorated Blackhawks prospects when it comes to his hockey resume.  Last season, he was one of the nation’s top defenseman and made the all-freshman team for the NCHC conference.  The Denver Pioneers were just one win away from another Frozen Four appearance but they fell to the Ohio State Buckeyes.  Mitchell finished the season with two goals and 28 assists.

This summer, Mitchell has been training hard for the 2018-19 season and his work is showing.  He impressed at Blackhawks prospect camp this summer and then played in the World Juniors showcase for Team Canada in Kamloops British Columbia alongside 2018 1st round pick Nicolas Beadin.  There is a very strong possibility Mitchell could sign with the Blackhawks after his sophomore season, but it’s safe to say his development is right on track.