July 15, 2013 by Cups n Pucks
On Thursday I was able to make it out to the Blackhawks prospect camp and take a look at who is currently in the system. Granted I was only there for one day, but the group as a whole looked pretty strong. I noted a few of the players that may have developed a little more than others.
For starters, 2012 first rounder Teuvo Teravainen and 2013 first rounder Ryan Hartman were not participating in the camp this year. Teravainen will be traveling from US and Finland often for the U-20 Finland team the next couple months and with a year remaining on his contract for Jokerit Helsinki (SM-Liiga) he decided to stay home. Ryan Hartman was nursing an injury and wasn’t able to make it onto the ice.
The other notable subtraction was Antti Raanta, who was also nursing an injury. Raanta put up an impressive .943 save percentage and 1.85 goals against average for Assat (SM-liiga), winning player of the year last year in the SM-Liiga. Expect to see him at training camp and to start the season in Rockford (He will get some time with the Hawks though. We all know Khabibulin’s injury prone).
First thing I noticed is how small the Hawks drafted. Anthony Louis (2013 181st overall), Tyler Motte (2013 121st overall) and Vince Hinostroza (2012, 169th overall) looked to be around 5’9” in height and extremely thin. All these guys are NCAA prospects (Stan Bowman seems to love NCAA players) so they have time before being considered for a contract. If they stand any chance of playing in the NHL, they are going to need to grow and put on some muscle over the next four years.
Since we are on the topic of Anthony Louis, I noticed that the kid has some serious heart. I started watching him because he was so tiny and was curious how he would hold up. He was impressive for his size. Louis goes hard every shift and into the dirty areas. He may get rag dolled around but he would come out with the puck quite often. Good vision and looked even better when he was on the power play. Could turn out to be an interesting prospect. Time will tell.
The best player on the ice was easily Phillip Danault (2011 26th overall). I can see this kid playing up and down the line-up. He has the ability to be a Dave Bolland type of player (in my opinion, a little better). He is a smooth skater, handles the puck pretty well, and gets gritty in the corners. With a few spots opening up in the line-up, Danault has a chance to make the Hawks this season. However, he’ll probably start in Rockford giving players like Morin and Smith a shot with the Hawks first.
John Hayden (2013 74th overall) looked pretty solid. He is an above average skater with a pretty strong shot, but not the most accurate. Hayden’s hockey IQ is fantastic. He’s always in the right place at the right time. He will need a few years of seasoning but Hayden is another prospect to watch.
Two prospects I was extremely excited to see again were Chris Calnan (2012 79th overall) and Maxim Shalunov (2011 109th overall). Both had great prospect camps last season and I was hoping they could build off of what they showed last year. Both were pretty invisible in this year’s camp. Calnan, the nephew of Blackhawks legend Jeremy Roenick, will be starting his college career next year at Boston College (same school as the Hayes brothers and Ben Smith). Playing at the next level will help him out immensely.
While Shalunov reaped the benefits of playing with Teravainen last season, he also had a solid showing for Russia on the U-20 team. He has been playing in the MHL the last couple years for Belie Medvedi, but should be looking to make the jump to Traktor Chelyabinsk of the KHL next season. Next year’s prospect camp will be a good test to see where Shalunov is in his development. He has a lot of raw skill and good size and playing in the KHL will be beneficial to his development.
Stephen Johns was a bit surprising to me. I’ve read nothing but great things about him. I’ve read how he is a big solid, physical, stay at home defensemen that the Hawks lack in their prospect pool. I’ve also read how he is only a couple years away from possibly cracking the line-up. Johns didn’t get a contract from the Hawks this season so he will be playing his senior year at Notre Dame; Hawks are going to take their time with him. He hasn’t been to a camp since his draft year, so when his name was on the roster I knew he would be a player to watch intently. My feelings towards him are mixed. This kid hits everything and is very strong in his own end. He never gets beat on rushes and plays one-on-ones very well. Oh and did I fail to mention, he hits EVERYTHING! That being said, I did notice he has a tendency to try forcing passes. I’m not saying his IQ is bad, but he may want to work on his decision making with the puck.
Both Carl Dahlstrom (2013 51st overall) and Dillon Fournier (2012 48th overall) both had good days. Dahlstorm is an extremely fluid skater and makes those good first passes out of the zone. Fournier was more of an offensive presence than Dahlstorm. Very skilled moving the puck and was one of the better defensemen on the ice.
Mark McNeill (2011 18th overall) was pretty invisible, for those who were hoping for a mention. Hopefully he shows a little more at training camp, but expect him to play his first pro season in Rockford this year.
Lastly, some of those free agent invites were pretty good! Most notably was goaltender Matthew O’Connor. He played for Boston University and put up a 2.86 goals against average and an 8-8-2 record. Nothing special about his numbers, but the 6’5” 195 pound goalie looked fantastic at the Hawks camp. Wasn’t over committing, controlled his rebounds. I really hope to see this kid around again!
The other two free agent invites I liked were Viktor Svedberg and Dan Weissenhofer. These two are two totally different styled defensemen. Svedberg (Frolunda HC) is a monster as 6’9” but he isn’t very physical (at least he wasn’t last year and threw a few hits Thursday). It is ok though because he uses his height and stick very well. He is a stay at home defensemen so he won’t be putting up the big points and rarely let anything past him at camp.
Weissenhoffer (Air Force) was a rugged stay at home defensemen. He was extremely physical and wouldn’t let anyone near the goalie when he froze the puck. The kid played with and edge that you haven’t seen with the Hawks in a while. He was extremely fun to watch.
All and all, there was a good mix of talent out for the defending champs prospect camp. No one looks ready to make the jump this year but there are some players who will be playing in the NHL in the future. I don’t believe that there can be a dynasty during the cap era, but the Hawks might be coming as close as you can get.
If you want to read more about Hawks prospect, check out:
- Hi-ho, Hi-ho: Day 1 of Blackhawks Prospect Camp (runsonduncan.wordpress.com)
- Day 3 of Prospect Camp is in the Books (runsonduncan.wordpress.com)
- Blackhawks goalie Antti Raanta hopes for a smooth transition to North America – in Rockford or Chicago (voices.suntimes.com)