After putting together a run that many refer to as a dynasty through the early to mid-2010s, the Chicago Blackhawks have come back down to earth the past few seasons, capped off by them missing the postseason entirely in 2020-21. With the few down years, one would think that they would now have a stockpile of solid prospects. However, that isn’t the case. In fact, their prospect pool is quite bad.
According to DobberProspects, the Blackhawks rank 28th out of all 32 teams in the league in terms of prospect pools. It certainly isn’t an ideal situation for the team to be in, but thankfully general manager Stan Bowman was able to help the current roster this offseason with the acquisitions of Marc-Andre Fleury and Seth Jones.
Though their prospect situation certainly isn’t ideal right now, it isn’t all bad for the Blackhawks. They currently do have a couple of quality players in their system who could be very useful to their roster in the near future. Given that there aren’t many who stand out currently in this organization, the ones who do can be deemed ‘untouchable.’ Here they are.
The best prospect in the Blackhawks organization right now is, without a doubt, Lukas Reichel. The 19-year-old winger was selected in the first round (17th overall) at the 2020 NHL Entry Draft after an impressive rookie season in the DEL for the Berlin Polar Bears, scoring 12 goals and 24 points in 42 games.
Reichel was able to slightly build on those totals this past season with the Polar Bears, putting up 10 goals and 27 points in 38 contests. Those numbers don’t jump off the page, but it is important to remember he is still in his teenage years playing against men. He will head over to North America for the 2021-22 season after signing an entry-level deal in June. He will likely start the season in the AHL, but if he plays to his potential, he has a chance to see some NHL action at some point in 2021-22.
Some may argue that Nicolas Beaudin isn’t technically a ‘prospect’ anymore, given that he played more games in the NHL (19) than he did in the AHL (9) last season. But given that he has just 20 career games under his belt, I was willing to give him an exception. The 27th pick from the 2018 Draft is the best blueline prospect the Blackhawks have and will likely make their roster out of camp this season.
During his first season as a pro in 2019-20, Beaudin struggled to establish himself offensively in the AHL with the Rockford IceHogs, posting just 15 points in 59 games. That changed in a big way this past season, as he had 10 points in nine contests, along with six points in 19 games with the Blackhawks. He is still just 21 years old but appears to be on the right track to becoming a solid NHL player.
The Blackhawks surprised many at the 2021 Draft when they selected defenceman Nolan Allan with their first-round (32nd overall) pick. It remains a mystery what made them choose to pick him, given that he was projected by most to be a late second, early third-round pick. With that said, he still has some great intangibles and has a chance to turn into a solid pro.
His offensive game leaves plenty to be desired, registering just two points in 16 games with the Prince Albert Raiders of the WHL this past season. However, his bread and butter is his play without the puck. He is a solid skater who is great in his own end and can throw massive body checks. Some scouts also believe that there is more to his offensive game than has been shown so far, and it will be interesting to see if he is capable of producing more points in the 2021-22 season.
Perhaps the most under-the-radar prospect the Blackhawks have right now is Drew Commesso. The 19-year-old goaltender was taken in the second round (46th overall) of the 2020 Draft after an impressive 2019-20 season with the USA National U18 Team.
The 2020-21 season saw Commesso play as a freshman for Boston University, where he continued his strong play. In 11 games in the shortened collegiate season, he put up a 2.99 goals against average paired with a .915 save percentage and a 6-3-1 record. He is still a long way away from making an impact at the NHL level, but he is without a doubt the best goaltending prospect the Blackhawks have right now, making him ‘untouchable.’
More Prospects Needed
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, the Blackhawks have made some moves this offseason that may be enough to get them back into the playoffs. However, if they want to maintain success in future years, they will need to add more youth to this team. This could come in many ways, whether it be through trades or simply drafting better. Either way, they need to improve in this area.
Colton Pankiw is a former Jr. A hockey player who now provides his knowledge of the game through writing. He’s been a very active and reliable source for nearly two years at The Hockey Writers. He is a credentialed writer for the Calgary Flames but also does features on other teams throughout the league. Other writing contributions include: Oil On Whyte, NHLtradetalk.com, and Markerzone.com. Colton is also a co-host of both Oilers Overtime and Flames Faceoff podcasts. Any interview requests or content info can be made through him on Twitter. Take a look at his work here.