However, don’t expect the perennial contender to be on the outside looking in for too much longer, as the franchise’s next wave of young talent stands poised to infuse skill, energy, and passion into what is a quickly progressing roster.
Sure, only a handful of the Blackhawks’ current prospects will come to play a major role with the team at the NHL-level, however, the majority of Chicago’s current youngsters should see ice time with the franchise in the not-so-distant future. Although arguably lacking an elite prospect, the Blackhawks are on the road to resurgence following a decade of domination.
Stanley Cups: Six
2017-18 Record: 33-39-10; 76 Points
2017-18 Top Scorer: Patrick Kane ; 27G, 49A, 76PTS
Farm System Grade: B-
Top 10 Prospects:
- Henri Jokiharju
- Adam Boqvist
- Dylan Sikura
- Nicolas Beaudin
- Blake Hillman
- Victor Ejdsell
- Chad Krys
- Ian Mitchell
- Lucas Carlsson
- Artur Kayumov
The State of the Blackhawks’ Farm System
Chicago’s farm system heading into the 2018-19 season features a solid mix of high-end talent and long-term projects.
Leading the Blackhawks into their somewhat uncertain future are two blue line studs, both of which selected by the franchise in the first round of the past two NHL Drafts.
On one hand there is Henri Jokiharju, a dynamic two-way defender nabbed by Chicago with the 29th overall selection in the 2017 NHL Draft. A native of Oulu, Finland, Jokiharju is a puck-moving defenceman who can play a significant role at both ends of the ice. Whether he be quarter-backing his team’s power play or shutting down a rush devised by his opposition, Jokiharju is not only confident but consistent in his on-ice abilities.
Further, there is Adam Boqvist — the Blackhawks’ eighth-overall selection in the 2018 NHL Draft.
In Boqvist, Chicago boasts a fleet-footed, mobile defender who loves to drive his team’s offensive game. Capable of dictating the play from his post on the blue line, Boqvist can fire his shot on net through traffic with remarkable consistency and is as creative and daring with the puck as they come. Although he’ll need to strengthen his frame as he develops, Boqvist could very well draw comparisons to that of a young Duncan Keith.
Outside of these two high-end defence prospects, the Blackhawks’ farm system begins to dwindle slightly.
Sure, the likes of Dylan Sikura, Nicolas Beaudin, and Blake Hillman are all incredibly promising prospects, yet it could be some time before all of which seize full-time roles in Chicago. Now, this is not to say that these three youngsters are not capable of competing at the NHL-level, but rather that particular aspects of their games require greater development before being exposed to hockey’s highest level full-time.
In addition to these three, the Blackhawks also feature Victor Ejdsell, Chad Krys, and Ian Mitchell — three prospects in different stages of their development who will need considerable seasoning at the AHL-level.
Ultimately, Chicago’s farm system stands in a fairly impressive state given the infancy of their rebuild. Affording their youngest players — such as Jokiharju — with considerable ice time will be of the utmost importance for the Blackhawks in the coming years, who could challenge for a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs if able to draft intelligently.
Fortunately, history is on their side.
One Blackhawks Prospect to Watch
One prospect of significant interest for Chicago and its fans to follow this season will be Boqvist.
Entering into his first campaign of play with the OHL’s London Knights, the 2018-19 season will serve as a major indication of Boqvist’s future potential at the NHL-level. If able to enjoy a swift and successful transition to the OHL-level, Boqvist could push for a place on the Blackhawks’ roster to begin their 2019-20 season.
However, if he stumbles, Boqvist’s road to the show could prove to be a long and winding one.
Fortunately, Boqvist is an insanely talented defender who already boasts professional playing experience. With 15 games in the SHL this past season in-hand, Boqvist should adapt to the OHL with little issue and come to dominate the league in no time at all. As an elite skater who processes the game at a rapid speed, Boqvist’s intelligence and creativity will surely allow the native of Falun, Sweden to munch major minutes for the Knights this season.
Heck, there is a reason why the Blackhawks nabbed Boqvist in the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft — he is simply that good.