Chris Pondy/Icon SMI)
Chicago Blackhawks forward Viktor Stalberg just completed his second full season in the NHL and put up a career high 22 goals and 43 points in 79 games. For the first time since a U-20 performance in 2005, Stalberg was nominated to represent his native country in international play once the Blackhawks were knocked out of the playoffs. This was a nomination he didn’t hesitate to accept.
Photo: Few if any rookies have been as instrumental to the Blackhawks success this season as Andrew Shaw, who was drafted in the fifth round of 2011. (Photo courtesy of Chris Pondy/Icon SMI)
In the inaugural edition of our Blackhawks prospect awards, Hockey's Future takes a look at some of the standouts within the Chicago organization. From skill categories such as "Hardest Shot" and "Fastest Skater" to season-specific awards for players exceeding and not meeting expectations, this piece will sift through the crowded prospect pool for players who stand out above the rest. The winner for each category was determined by the team writer with assistance from the HF staff.
Photo: Adam Clendening has been one of the top two-way defensemen in college hockey this season, managing 33 points in 38 games. (Photo courtesy of Ed Wolfstein/Icon SMI)
The Blackhawks have an extensive amount of prospects playing in either the NCAA or European levels of hockey. The organization has a particularly large amount of defensive prospects at both levels, with a combined 11 blueliners among the group.
Adam Clendening, D, Boston University Terriers (Hockey East)
Drafted 2nd round, 36th overall, 2011
Offensive-defenseman Adam Clendening managed to surpass his impressive freshman point totals in his second year with Boston University. As a sophomore, Clendening led the Terriers blue line with 33 points in 38 games. Active at both ends of the ice, he ranks second on the team in shots on goal and ranked third on the team with block shots.
Photo: Winger Brandon Saad has been among the most prolific offensive players in the OHL this season. Already signed to an entry-level deal, Saad had a two-game cup of coffee in the NHL earlier this season. (Photo courtesy of Aaron Bell/OHL Images)
The Chicago Blackhawks maintain one of the deepest prospects pools in the NHL after several years of gorging on draft picks in the NHL Entry Draft. Though the organization may not feature any blue-chip prospects, there are a number of players at each position who could eventually step in and complement the core in Chicago.
Once a defense-heavy prospect system, Chicago has taken steps to fleshing out their numbers on the wings and in net in recent drafts. The blue line is still an area of strength with former first round pick Dylan Olsen currently playing with the Blackhawks and collegiate prospects such as Adam Clendening and Stephen Johns making their mark in the NCAA.
Photo: The number one pick in the 2007 NHL draft, Patrick Kane has been one of most dynamic offensive players to ever suit up for the Chicago Blackhawks. (Photo courtesy of NHL)
The Blackhawks came away from the 2007 draft with only one regular player, but they made that one count by making Patrick Kane the first overall pick. He has since won a Calder Trophy, earned three All-Star nods, and helped lead Chicago to its first cup since 1961.