In this edition of Chicago Blackhawks‘ News and Rumors, three of the team’s prospects are set to compete in the Canadian Hockey League’s (CHL) Memorial Cup, while the organization confirmed this summer’s development camp will take place solely off-ice. The Blackhawks also reportedly denied the Pittsburgh Penguins the chance to interview associate general manager (AGM) Jeff Greenberg. Finally, two former Blackhawks are headed to their first Stanley Cup Final.
Korchinski, Allan, & Dach to Compete in Memorial Cup
Representing the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) Seattle Thunderbirds, Blackhawks defensive prospects Kevin Korchinski and Nolan Allan and forward Colton Dach are set to skate in the 103rd annual Memorial Cup, with the nine-day tournament taking place in Kamloops, British Columbia. Having defeated the Winnipeg Ice 4-1 in the WHL Championship, the Thunderbirds begin their round-robin slate on Saturday against the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) champion Peterborough Petes, before games against the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) champion Québec Remparts (Monday) and host Kamloops Blazers (Wednesday).
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The most prominent name of the three is Korchinski, who the Blackhawks selected seventh overall in the 2022 NHL Draft. The Saskatchewan native finished his third WHL season with 73 points in 54 regular-season games and has posted 14 points (three goals, 11 assists) in 19 playoff games so far. At 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, some have projected him as the Blackhawks’ future No. 1 defenseman.
Allan and Dach were both 2021 picks, selected during former GM Stan Bowman’s final draft. The Blackhawks took Allan, a left-handed defenseman, at 32 overall before drafting Dach at 62 overall. Colton, the younger brother of Montreal Canadiens forward and former Blackhawk Kirby Dach, was a mid-season pickup from the Kelowna Rockets and fit in nicely with the Thunderbirds while making an impression in the postseason with 14 points in 19 games.
Development Camp Won’t Feature On-Ice Portion
Blackhawks fans hoping to get their first taste of Connor Bedard, widely considered to be the 2023 Draft’s top pick, will likely have to wait until September. The team has decided not to include an on-ice portion of their development camp, beginning on June 30 and immediately following rounds two through seven of the draft. According to Blackhawks director of player development Mark Eaton, the decision was made to help their prospects’ physical development and not rush them back into on-ice action if some hadn’t skated in, say, weeks.
It’s a reasonable decision, given the quick turnaround after the draft (June 28-29) and the inherent injury risk that comes with camp. Plus, with all the hype surrounding Bedard, having the camp at Fifth Third Arena (the team’s practice facility) might have been difficult, if demand from fans hoping to watch the 17-year-old and other prospects exceeded the space available. Having the camp at the United Center would’ve been challenging, too, as it’s booked for concerts on June 30, July 1, 5, and 6. Though fans might have to wait a little bit longer to see the best prospect since Connor McDavid, the wait should make his NHL debut more special.
Penguins Expressed Interest in Greenberg
According to Scott Powers of The Athletic, the Penguins were interested in Greenberg for their vacant GM position. However, the Blackhawks denied an interview request, as the team felt he has become a key part of their leadership group after just his first season with the organization (from “What I’m hearing about the Blackhawks from Connor Bedard to free agency, The Athletic, 05/24/23). The Pittsburgh native is one of two AGMs under Kyle Davidson, along with Norm Maciver, who returned to the team in March 2022 after joining the Seattle Kraken in Jan. 2021.
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Greenberg came to the Blackhawks in April 2022 with a baseball background, having spent 11 seasons in the Chicago Cubs’ front office and overseeing their 2016 World Series-winning club. He was reportedly one of the three finalists for the Blackhawks’ GM job before the position went to Davidson.
Forsling & Duclair Advance to Stanley Cup Final
At least two former Blackhawks will skate in this year’s Stanley Cup Final after the Florida Panthers swept the Carolina Hurricanes on in the Eastern Conference Final on Wednesday night. Defenseman Gustav Forsling and forward Anthony Duclair will play in their first Final against either the Vegas Golden Knights or Dallas Stars.
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The Blackhawks acquired Forsling from the Vancouver Canucks in Jan. 2015, and he played 122 regular-season games with the club from 2016-19 before spending the 2019-20 season with the Hurricanes. The Panthers claimed him off waivers in Jan. 2021, and he quickly emerged as a top-four defenseman. Following a career-high 41-point season, Forsling has posted six points (two goals, four assists) in 16 playoff games and ranks third on the team with a plus-nine and second in ice time, averaging 26:44 per game.
Duclair had a shorter stint with Chicago, skating in 23 games in 2017-18 after coming from the Arizona Coyotes. He then spent time with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Ottawa Senators before signing with the Panthers in Dec. 2020, recording a career-high 58 points in 74 regular-season games in 2021-22. After undergoing surgery on his left Achilles tendon in the summer, he played just 20 regular-season games with Florida this season. However, he has thrived in the postseason, recording nine points (three goals, six assists) in 15 games on the team’s top line with Carter Verhaeghe and Aleksander Barkov.
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So far, it’s been a quiet offseason for the Blackhawks outside of winning the draft lottery. There is still much to discuss, and news should ramp up soon with the NHL Draft just over a month away.