Photo: With an NHL spot secured, Brandon Saad can set his sights on making a good impression on Team USA brass when the 2013-14 season opens (courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The Chicago Blackhawks maintain a prospect pool that features both quantity and quality, from potential top-six forwards to versatile blueliners that could contribute down the road. There have not been many changes at the top, but the 2013 draft class increased the competition for lower spots and put three new prospects inside the Top 20.
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: 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: Brandon Saad's third period shorthanded goal sealed a 2-1 victory over San Jose on February 22nd, marking the Blackhawks' record-setting 17th straight game without a regulation loss to open the season. (courtesy of Robin Alam/Icon SMI)
The Chicago Blackhawks have had the arsenal of picks to draft for both quantity and quality in recent years, leading to a prospect pool with both variety and depth. The team's top five prospects may stand out due to their overall upside and the likeliness that they will reach that level of play, but the rest of the list is far less clear cut as the prospects have yet to distance themselves from the pack.
Photo: The Rockford IceHogs second-leading scorer is winger Ben Smith, one of the many prospects with NHL experience in the Rockford lineup this season. (courtesy of Warren Wimmer/Icon SMI)
Expected by many to be among the top teams in the AHL this season, the Rockford IceHogs have put together another up-and-down start to a season. Even with several players on the roster who are expected to be full-time NHL players when the season begins, the team has managed a 17-16-1-1 record so far in 2012-13. There have been good stretches – four separate stretches have seen the 'Hogs rattle off at least three consecutive wins – but they are always accompanied by times when the team has struggled to come away with any points in the standings.