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Prospect Pool Overview: Chicago Blackhawks

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Chicago has been completely rebuilt with new general manager Kyle Davidson.

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This means that their potential pool will be the focus of the team for the next few years. Not being drafted by young building blocks of the franchise like Kirby Duch and Alex Debrinkat is a prime example of this. Debrinkat and Dah are only 24 and 21 years old respectively, so their move shows how far management thinks they have to go.

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Their potential pool is pretty average, but they did a great job building it up in the 2022 NHL draft. The Debrincat and Dach targets are Kevin Korchinski and Frank Nazar III, two of the most interesting picks in the draft class. They also added the best high school player in this year’s class in defenseman Sam Rinzel.

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Alex Vlasic and Isaac Phillips made their NHL debuts last season and it looks like they both have a future with the club in the background. Both are defensive players who can move the puck from their end to the forwards across the ice when passing. Wyatt Kaiser and Nolan Allan also have good puck control on their way up the system.

Lukas Reichel scored 57 points in 56 games for the Rockford Ice Hogs in the AHL last year and is looking to break into Chicago on a full-time basis. A highly motorized forward who makes all the right reads on the ice, Reichel has been playing professional hockey since his DEL draft. The rest of the forward group is in development in a year or two, but players like Michal TeplĂ˝ and Ryder Rolston seem to have some potential in the NHL.

2022 NHL draft class

Round 1 (7 total) – Kevin Korchinski, Defensive Player, Seattle Thunderbirds [WHL]
Round 1 (13 total) – Frank Nazar III, C, US National Design Team [USHL]
Round 1 (25 total) – Sam Rinzel, D, Chaska HS (USHS-MN)
Round 2 (39 total) – Paul Ludwinski, C, Kingston Frontenacs [OHL]
Round 2 (57 total) – Ryan Green, C, Green Bay Gamblers [USHL]
Round 3 (66 total) – Gavin Hayes, L, Flint Firebirds [OHL]
Round 3 (total 81) – Samuel Savoie, L, Gatineau Olympiques [QMJHL]
Round 3 (90 total) – Aidan Thompson, C, Lincoln Stars [USHL]
Round 6 (173 total) – Dominic James, F, U. of Minnesota-Duluth [NCAA-NCHC]
Round 6 (Total 188) – Niels Junthorp, L, HV71 Jr. [J20 Nationell]
Round 7 (Total 199) – Riku Tohila, C, JYP (U20 SM series)

For a team going into the 2022 NHL Entry Draft without a first-round pick, making three draft picks has been pretty tough for Davidson. They sent Debrincat to the Ottawa Senators for the 7th overall pick, 39th overall pick and 2024 third round. Shortly thereafter, Chicago walked away from Dah in a deal that earned them 13th and 66th overall in the 2022 draft from Montreal. Some time later, Davidson made a deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs, acquiring 25th overall pick and goaltender Petr Mrazek for the 38th overall pick, in what was effectively a trade of spades so that Toronto could drop Mrazek’s $3.8 million cap. in Chicago.

Korchinski, a dynamic defender with an elusive and skillful skating, was their pick in seventh place overall. The Seattle Thunderbirds guard was one of the most active players during the year, thanks in part to his four-way mobility and intellectual mindset during the transition. Korczynski needs to work on his defensive game while still showing a superior ability to read the game and break passes with his stick.

Their next choice was high-octane center Frank Nazar III. The US NTDP product brings controlled chaos to the game, which thrives on his creativity with the puck on the stick and the skating lanes he runs through the neutral zone and the offensive zone. There are times when Nazar jumps into a space that was never there until he arrived and finishes with speed and precision. He’s shown off his passing skills on multiple occasions this year, trying and hitting passes through traffic and levels of defense that would shut up other less daring forwards. Nazar has incredible growth potential, and Chicago is betting that in a year or two he will succeed at the University of Michigan.

Sam Rinzel was selected by Toronto in the first round. The high school quarterback has everything you could want from a 6’4″ height to four-way mobility that allows him to impress in all three zones. A full year with the Waterloo Blackhawks in the USHL next year before going to the University of Minnesota should be the perfect path to develop as this raw clayey ball turns into a player who can become a legitimate player who can make a difference at the next level.

Catching the very smart Paul Ludwinski in the second round was neat work for Chicago. Ludwinski is a center that is always in the right place and at the right time. Everything he does is aimed at moving the puck on the ice on offense or returning it to his team on defense. He doesn’t have the flash that some other higher level forwards have, but he is a great facilitator and driver of possession. If he can add some power and improve his shooting, he could become a quality top six center.

Ryan Green and Gavin Hayes are two players who need to fill their boxes and get physically mature, but play with first-class puck skills and try to make those around them better. Green scored 51 points in 59 UHL games due to his agility and playing ability. Hayes was the key to Flint’s strong team in the OHL, using his dangles and passing ability to help him propel himself forward on the playing ice, even if he lacked explosive power in his stride. Both Green and Hayes have room to develop as puck carriers on the ice, but they have the puck handling skills and the intelligence to do it in the game.

Samuel Savoie is an interesting game from the third round. The physical forward hasn’t shown the offensive potential you normally see in this draft range, so they’re betting that he’ll be a high-profile bottom-six player who can break and blast his way into the offensive line. Aidan Thompson, ranked 90th, is a 20-year-old who tore through the USHL this season and is heading to the University of Denver. Let’s hope his path to the pro level is shorter and he can take some of his playing ability to the next level after a year or two at the NCAA level.


The strength of the Chicago pipeline is on the back. They further solidified him in the 2022 draft by drafting Korczynski and Rinzel, who were both heavily drafted in the first round.

Kaiser is an evasive skater who is still developing into his offensive play but has shown an ability to make the forecheckers look silly and then pass the puck to his teammates in transition. Allan is a defensive backdrop in the game played by Kaiser. He uses his skating to excel in his end, cutting corners and interrupting play with either his stick or body.

Weak sides

Chicago could use one or two more A’s in their forward group. They added Nazar III in the draft, but besides him and Reichel, they lack players who look like they could be in the top six in the NHL. Paul Ludwinski and Ryan Green were added in the 2022 draft, but they need to make a few moves in various aspects of their game to complete the roster. Luckily for Chicago, they seem poised to take a pretty high pick in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, a class made up of seasoned hitters and difference-makers.

Next player: LW/C Lukas Reichel

The German winger, selected 17th overall in 2020, has done nothing but justify his choice ever since. To some, Reichel seems to have done a great job of adjusting to North America with a pretty solid season in the AHL, scoring a little more points per game and playing smart two-way play. He is persistent in the forecheck, dropping below the goal line and using his skill and energy to win the puck. Reichel makes backchecking difficult, especially in the neutral zone, where he constantly sticks his stick against puck carriers.

Reichel used his speed and general agility to manipulate and lure defenders. He understands how to use false shoulder movements and quick strikes from outside to inside to make room for himself. He is an attacking player with a double threat and a good shot that will only get better as he develops physically. Reichel seemed more comfortable every time he was called up last season and should be vying for a permanent role in the middle six when training camp opens.

Prospectus Depth Chart Notes

Left winger: Lucas Reichel, Samuel Savoia
C: Frank Nazar III, Paul Ludwinski, Ryan Green
Right: Gavin Hayes, Michal TeplĂ˝, Ryder Rolston
LD: Kevin Korchinski, Nolan Allan, Alex Vlasik, Wyatt Kaiser, Isaac Phillips
RD: Sam Rinzel, Michael Krutil
G: Drew Salesman

To dive deeper into the player-rated lead pool, check out Yearbook and Future Watch editions of Hockey News print edition!


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