Brophey has shown this season that he can rise to a challenge. At the 2006 Blackhawk prospect camp, team brass charged the 20-year-old Kitchener, Ont. native with elevating his on-ice production to match his substantial physical skills. Always regarded as strong skater with two-way potential, Brophey had yet to translate his ability to real production. However, the 2006-07 season has been a revelation. Centering Jared Boll (CBJ) and James Neal (DAL), Brophey scored 36 goals and added 71 assists, at a remarkable +39, in the regular season to lead Plymouth to a second place finish in the OHL West.
Plymouth is still alive in the OHL playoffs, after recently eliminating heavily-favored London in five games. In these games, Brophey and his line were dominant at both ends of the ice versus the much smaller London forwards, including potential No. 1 draftee Pat Kane.
Brophey was an OHL all-star, and also finished second in overall voting for the OHL most valuable overage player award. The Blackhawks plan to sign the 6’2 200-pounder this off-season and send him to Rockford, joining other recent CHL stars Dave Bolland and Troy Brouwer.
Ben Shutron, D — Kingston Frontenacs, OHL
When you think of 2006 draftee Shutron, think of a younger Duncan Keith with a little Bryan Berard thrown in. Shutron’s positives are skating and passing, evidenced by
an impressive five goals (three on the power play) and 42 assists for the Frontenacs in 2006-07. Shutron’s negatives are that he is a bit underdeveloped physically (though listed at 6′, 190) and not responsible in his own end, borne out by a team-low -18, on a team that finished over .500. Shutron had a goal and three assists in five playoff games, going -3. The Blackhawks were aware of Shutron’s reputation for offense-first, and felt that and his size and strength issues were perhaps why, in spite of his considerable skill, he fell to Round 4 in the draft. Still just 19 years old, the right-handed shooting Shutron will need to work on his liabilities, and will most likely do so on the northern shore of Lake Ontario with Kingston next season.
David Kuchejda, RW — Soo Greyhounds, OHL
Czech-native Kuchejda (5’11, 195) had a relatively decent 2006-07 season for the
Greyhounds, under the direction for former Blackhawk coach Craig Hartsburg. Kuchejda found the net 25 times, with 28 assists and a solid +14 in 58 games. His stats also improved very nicely from the previous season with the Greyhounds. The Greyhounds played two rounds in the OHL playoffs, with Kuchejda racking up seven points in 13 games. Kuchejda represented his home country in the World Juniors this past season, going scoreless in five games. When asked about Kuchejda’s performance at the juniors, GM Dale Tallon cited Kuchejda’s grit and determination, while also hinting that his skill level falls far short of fellow Hawk draftees in the tournament, Jonathan Toews, Igor Makarov and Niklas Hjalmarsson. This, coupled with the glut of good prospects the Hawks currently have in the 18-21-year-old range, does make one wonder whether Kuchejda will ever be signed to a contract by the Hawks.
Due to a painful bone bruise suffered in November, Hobson’s overage season in Spokane was somewhat shortened and a bit of a disappointment. A big fan favorite in Spokane,
Hobson is a prospect the Blackhawks had listed among their top 10 earlier this year, based in part on his performances at prospect camps, where he more than held his own against many higher-profile draftees. Taken in Round 7 in 2005, The 6′, 205-pound Hobson has a solid game: a two-way center who hits and battles night in and night out. He registered 14 goals and 18 assists (-3) in 43 games for the Chiefs in the highly competitive WHL U.S.
division. Again, the injury seems to have held him back from what might have been a much stronger performance. Hobson also scored three goals in six playoff games for Chiefs. Hobson’s status bears watching this offseason as the Hawks shuffle their rosters at the NHL and AHL level. One would think, based upon his earlier standing with the Hawks, Hobson might be signed and placed at Rockford. But there will be only so many spots, so time will tell.
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