Chicago, IL — With the Blackhawks prospect camp running this week, the Hawks are hoping that they may hit the jackpot with some of these young hockey players. Free Agency may not have played out the way they exactly wanted til this point but there is still plenty to be optimistic about the future and these kids are why.
There are so many potential stars in this years’ camp it is almost hard to know who and what to look for. The Hawks are rich at the forward positions and the rich got richer in the past two years drafts. Landing Saad & Teravainen in the slots the Hawks had is a coo. All of their picks will be in attendance so go check out the future of the Hawks. There are several prospects that I will be watching.
From the 2011 draft I will be looking at Brandon Saad and what I’ll be looking at is now that he has played with the big club and had a monster year in juniors alot will be expected from him. The Hawks were very fortunate indeed that Saad was even left at the 43rd pick in round two. He was projected to go in the first round at the 23rd spot. The stars aligned very well for the Hawks.
I’m expecting he should stand out amongst the rest of the prospects who have not had NHL experience. I look for Saad this year to make the starting line-up of the Hawks as a top six forward. Whether Saad is flanking Toews on the left-wing or playing opposite Marian Hossa, he should contribute solid two-way play this year for the Hawks. Look for #43.
Mark McNeill who was the Blackhawks first overall pick last year at 18 is very intriguing. Could Mark be the 2nd line center that the Hawks have been looking for? He could just be. Mark will have a lot of work to do to impress and make the coach’s feel comfortable to put him is such a key role. To crack a top six spot on the Hawks will be hard but not impossible. I will be watching #11 and see how he does in camp.
He is a big physical player that should be ready for the NHL. I will focus on his defensive play and faceoff skills. He will also have to battle Marcus Krueger as well once the Hawks open their training camp with the veterans. Krueger is solid defensively so this should be interesting. It is also possible one of them makes 2nd line and the other 4th line center. If McNeill can do solid work in the dot who knows he may make the team. McNeill is definitely one to keep your eyes on.
Phillip Danault is another first round pick from the 2011 draft that is probably a dark horse to make the team this year. He may just surprise everyone and pull an Andrew Shaw and exceed everyone’s expectations. His work ethic is top shelf and character too so anything is possible. Danault also loves to play in front of the net and could provide the Hawks with that net front presence that the need. Coaches always love dedication and hard work so Danault could be right in the mix so keep your eyes on #4.
From this years’ draft all eyes will be on first rounder Teuvo Teravainen who will be donning the #29 jersey. Anyone who cites Pavel Datsyuk and Patrick Kane as their role models is someone you’re going to want to watch. Because of the run on defensemen the Hawks became benefactors in getting such a skilled forward. I’m interested in seeing his puck handling skills which according to scouts is already NHL ready. Look for this kid to dazzle in camp. He has played professionally in Europe on the Finnish Elite team Jokerit so his skills should be NHL ready it just a question of his size.
Teuvo will probably not make the Hawks this year due to his size and needing to still physically develop but that doesn’t mean he will not thrill the locals at camp.
At the forward position also look for Kevin Hayes (Jimmy Hayes brother) who was drafted in 2010 to also make a push at center. Chris Calnan who is the nephew of Jeremy Roenick, and plays a power forward style is a very good forechecker which the Hawks are in need of. Calnan will either play in college or juniors this year but look for him down the road.
On the defensive side of the puck, the Hawks have fewer prospects but there are some to keep an eye on.
Klas Dahlbeck is a big Swedish defenseman who is playing in the SEL he will be sporting the #64. He is a good skater and adept at breakout passing which the Hawks love their defensemen to do. I doubt Klas will break the Hawks lineup yet what I will be looking for with him is his stick work when defending and his gap control. Not known to be physical despite his size but is considered a defensive defensemen. I would love to see how he defends against McNeill and Saad if he can stop them he might just be NHL ready.
Adam Clendening is the opposite of Dahlbeck in that he would be considered an offensive defenseman. I will be looking for his shot from the point which scouts have highly touted. This could be a weapon the Hawks could use on the power play. He has excellent puck moving and skating abilities and finesse for a big blueliner. Another Boston U recruit the coaches will be taking a long look at Clendening. Look for #8.
Look for and you probably won’t miss Victor Svedberg at 6”9” which is Chara like sizing so he will stand out on the ice. Dillion Fournier will not be participating due to injury.
The Goalies in camp will probably not make the Hawks team but they will be interesting to watch as well. They all have good size at 6’2” or higher. Mac Carruth, Kent Simpson, Matt Tompkins and Johan Mattson and the big boy at 6’5” Brandon Whitney should be interesting.
There is a lot of promise in the Hawks prospect system and while not all of these prospects will make the NHL some of them will and will provide some excitement at the United Center for years to come.