Thanks to the salary cap, the Blackhawks have had to remain competitive by trading away roster players and finding skaters in their farm system to step into the fold. At the helm sits Stan Bowman who has met the challenge head-on. With Bowman’s hockey mind and ability to shape a roster filling in the much needed holes, he now has two Stanley Cup rings to show for it. Still, the Blackhawks have a plethora of studs in the minors, juniors, and Europe. Here’s a look at the Blackhawks top five prospects.
- Skaters can not have played more than 42 games.
- Goalies can not have played more than 25 games.
5. Antti Raanta – NHL – Chicago Blackhawks – G
This year was a learning curve for Raanta. He posted a 13-5-1 record as a rookie, which some think is very good – and it is. The only issue is that he was playing in front of a powerhouse team and his save percentage (.897) was not all that spectacular. He still has to harness his game somewhat and play the sound positional game that made him one of the best Finnish goaltenders a few years ago. It helps having Corey Crawford in front of him to learn from and the rest of the Blackhawks who have no intention of slowing down in the foreseeable future.
4. Ryan Hartman – AHL – Rockford IceHogs – RW
Ryan Hartman’s bread and butter is his knack for getting under the skin of the opposition. He isn’t the largest guy on the ice, but you wouldn’t know it by watching how he plays and uses his body. He gets into scrums after the whistle and can knock a player off the puck with a strong bodycheck. His boardplay, battles in the corners, and scoring touch are factors that played into the Blackhawks selecting their hometown boy in the 1st round of the 2013 Draft. Hartman’s game suits the NHL and in his short stint with the IceHogs, Hartman scored seven points in nine games. He’ll be difficult to play against when he breaks into the show within the next two years.
3. Adam Clendening – AHL – Rockford IceHogs – D
The former Boston University Terrier, Adam Clendening has been on a steady climb each season as a premier puck-moving defenseman. Only 5’11”, Clendening is sturdy on his skates, has great edgework, and pinpoint passes. For his shorter size he also owns a powerful blast from the point. He’ll be a primary target for Stan Bowman this season if a defenseman goes down to injury. Having led Rockford in points last season (that includes forwards), Clendening might find a spot in Chicago’s lineup right out of training camp.
2. Nick Schmaltz – NCAA – North Dakota – C
Like his brother, Nick Schmaltz was selected in the first round of the draft. Like his brother, he will be joining Jordan at the University of North Dakota. Unlike his brother, Nick Schmaltz plays center instead of defense. He shined this year with the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL. Schmaltz has impeccable vision around the ice and shifty deking skills. He drags defenders out of position before dishing the puck to an open teammate creating scoring chances. While he is no slouch in the defensive zone, Schmaltz will primarily be used as a setup man for the Fighting Sioux – and eventually the Blackhawks.
1. Teuvo Teravainen – AHL – Rockford IceHogs – C/W
While he played almost all of last season with Jokerit of the Sm-liiga, Teravainen will be making the transition to North America this year. A talented, quick forward with mesmerizing skill, Teravainen is an adept puckhandler with a hockey IQ through the roof. It’s difficult to score in the Finnish league, especially as a short kid playing against grown men, but the young Finn held his own scoring 44 points in 49 games. Teravainen is a gifted playmaker that reads the play and makes effortless tape-to-tape passes. He was ranked as one of the top prospects in 2012, but slipped down to 18th overall where the Blackhawks were happy to scoop him up. It won’t be long before he will be playing in Chicago contributing as an offensive threat.