The 2015–16 season for the Chicago Blackhawks certainly had its ups and downs. In a season that included Patrick Kane’s historic point streak, Artemi Panarin‘s sublime rookie campaign, and two prospects winning the NCAA Division I Championship (more on that in a bit) – but also some off-the-ice issues – the Blackhawks’ season came to an early end, falling to the St. Louis Blues in game seven of the Western Conference Semifinals.
In just one year, the Chicago Blackhawks have seen the top end of the prospect pool experience a transition period. Since last spring’s Top 20, the Blackhawks’ top prospect, Teuvo Teravainen, and defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk are now both full-time members of the club, while two skaters, Stephen Johns and Michael Paliotta, were sent out in trades. Furthermore, Philip Danault and Marko Dano, who were featured in the Blackhawks’ Fall Top 20 for the 2015–16 season, were sent out at the trade deadline, and surefire Calder Trophy finalist Artemi Panarin has graduated.
The West Division in the OHL is up for grabs, and two teams in the race are looking towards their top scorers to help secure a division title. In the WHL, Jayce Hawryluk just earned his first professional contract following an unbelievable month, and in the QMJHL, Cody Donaghey is settling into a new home after being traded in two different leagues this season. Also included this week, Hockey East serves up a high-quality matchup, and one rising Finnish superstar rounds out a stellar edition of Prospect Faceoff. Read more»
Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has seen the enormous potential in scouting both European and collegiate players, and nothing shows this more than his recent draft history. In the last two drafts, 12 of Bowman’s 17 selections would skate in either the NCAA or Europe the very next season. There’s clearly no rush to get these young guns to the NHL just yet, so allowing these prospects to perfect their game in their respective leagues has been crucial for their development. Several Blackhawks prospects will also have a chance for an NCAA Championship at the 2015 Frozen Four as well.
For years, one of the key concerns plaguing the Chicago Blackhawks was the lack of a quality second-line center. While general manager Stan Bowman is hoping his big free agent acquisition, Brad Richards, is a temporary solution for the 2014-15 season, the answer for future seasons may come from within the organization. Bowman and Co. have taken it upon themselves over the past few years to draft a plethora of centers.