Photo: Each of Chicago’s last four first-round picks have been forwards, including former Victoriaville Tigres captain Phillip Danault, selected 26th overall in 2011 (courtesy of Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
The Chicago Blackhawks will head into the 2013 NHL Draft with only one pick in the first three rounds after trading their second and third picks to Winnipeg in exchange for Johnny Oduya in 2011-12. The team has five total picks, a change of pace after having made 29 selections at the past three drafts. More than half of Chicago's picks in that time have come in the first three rounds, which has given the team several quality prospects at each position to build around.
Photo: Alex Broadhurst, who skated in his first OHL season with the London Knights in 2012-13, was one of two Blackhawks prospects to skate in the 2013 Memorial Cup (courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
There were not many Chicago Blackhawks prospects skating in playoff action after the 2012-13 season. Between the Rockford IceHogs just missing the cut in the AHL and only Brandon Saad skating in Chicago during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the pro level prospects were not very well-represented his postseason. Several prospects stood out at lower levels in their respective leagues, including two CHL prospects who played prominent roles on Memorial Cup teams.
Photo: Jeremy Morin put together his best pro season in 2012-13 and could be on the verge of cracking the Blackhawks roster next season (courtesy of Warren Wimmer/Icon SMI)
The Chicago Blackhawks prospect pool had plenty of notable performances during the 2012-13 season, particularly at the AHL level, where the Rockford IceHogs went on another late-season run only to come up just short of the playoffs for the third straight season. Many of the club's CHL prospects also had standout seasons, with two Blackhawks prospects still competing for their respective clubs at the 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup.
Photo: Florida Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau finished the 2012-13 season tied for the lead among NHL rookies with 31 points (courtesy of Rich Kane/Icon SMI)
Hockey's Future presents the top grouping of the Spring NHL Team Rankings, the staff's ranking of each NHL team's system based on the strength of the entire prospect pool. For reference, just the top five prospects are listed. To be eligible, a prospect must meet HF's prospect criteria. The ranking is done twice a year, with this edition being an update to the Fall ranking.
Photo: Boston College center Kevin Hayes was scoring at close to a point-per-game pace before his junior season was cut short by a leg injury (courtesy of Scott A. Schneider/Getty Images)
The Chicago Blackhawks possess a deep pool of blueliners at the collegiate level, from imposing physical presences like Stephen Johns and Michael Paliotta to smooth skaters Justin Holl and Nick Mattson. Centers Kevin Hayes, a first round draft choice in 2010, and Drew LeBlanc, recently signed as a free agent out of St. Cloud State, are also high-profile prospects who developed at the NCAA level in 2012-13.