The Chicago Blackhawks prospects tournament in Traverse City Michigan starts Friday, September 7. The Blackhawks prospects will be defending their 2017 championship title. The annual NHL Prospects tournament is an eight-team event featuring NHL prospects trying to impress their clubs.
Many of the prospects are vying for a spot on their team’s opening night roster similar to Alex DeBrincat last year. He led the Blackhawks Prospects to the championship by scoring two goals, including the game-winner in overtime. His play in the tournament and pre-season earned DeBrincat a spot on the Blackhawks 2017-18 roster.
Blackhawks Prospects Tournament 2018
There are eight teams participating in the tournament. The prospects for the Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues, Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Rangers, and Carolina Hurricanes will face each other this year. They are broken up into the two divisions below. Be sure to click on the team name to view the Top Shelf Prospects analysis by Last Word’s own Ben Kerr. Ben breaks down each team’s top prospects and their chances of making it to the NHL.
Gordie Howe Division:
Ted Lindsay Division:
Each team will play three games between September 7th and 10th. The tournament championship will be held Tuesday, September 11th. For the complete schedule of games, click on the Traverse City Prospects Tournament link.
Chicago Blackhawks 2018 Prospects
The Blackhawks prospects participating this year include some familiar faces and also some of the recent 2018 draft picks. Here are the players suiting up to defend the title for the Blackhawks. Be sure to click on their names for the Top Shelf Prospects link and analysis.
- Radovan Bondra L 6’5″ 222 lbs
- Shaw Boomhower L 5’11” 185 lbs
- Victor Ejdsell L 6’5″ 214 lbs
- Mackenzie Entwistle R 6’3″ 181 lbs
- Alexandre Fortin L 6’1″ 187 lbs
- Dominik Kahun L 5’11” 174 lbs
- Graham Knott L 6’3″ 192 lbs
- Philipp Kurashev L 5’11” 191 lbs
- Kyle Maksimovich L 5’9″ 174 lbs
- Connor Moynihan L 6’4″ 209 lbs
- Jacob Nilsson L 5’10” 174 lbs
- Nathan Noel R 5’10” 179 lbs
- Dylan Sikura L 5’11” 158 lbs
- Jason Willms L 6’0″ 190 lbs
- Nicolas Beaudin L 5’10” 172 lbs
- Adam Boqvist R 5’11” 165 lbs
- Lucas Carlsson L 6’0″ 187 lbs
- Dennis Gilbert L 6’1″ 195 lbs
- Blake Hillman L 6’1″ 180 lbs
- Henri Jokiharju R 6’1″ 180 lbs
- Jake Ryczek R 5’10” 179 lbs
- Joni Tuulola L 6’2″ 180 lbs
Prospects Time To Shine
The Chicago Blackhawks prospects will get their opportunity to impress the club during the tournament. Forwards Dylan Sikura and Victor Edjsell will look to show improvement as they prepare for the upcoming 2018-19 season as regulars on the Blackhawks. They both played for the Blackhawks near the end of last season and did not disappoint.
Beyond the many forwards looking to impress, most of the attention will be focused on the play of the Blackhawks defence prospects. The sudden decline of the Blackhawks defence has left many wondering when one or two of the prospects will play their way into the lineup. NHL veterans Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook will not be able to anchor the defence corps for many more seasons.
Henri Jokiharju is one of the most likely of the defence prospects to make the jump to the NHL in the near future. The Blackhawks drafted Jokiharju at #29 overall in 2017 and assigned him the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL. He had a very productive 2017-18 season for Portland, scoring 12 goals and 59 assists. The Blackhawks then signed Jokiharju to a three-year entry level contract this past June. His signing immediately created a buzz in Chicago with many wondering whether he will be brought up for the 2018-19 season or be returned to Portland.
2018 Defence Draft Picks
First-round draft picks Adam Boqvist and Nicolas Beaudin will also draw a lot of attention during the Blackhawks prospects tournament. Both young defencemen are mobile puck movers and will be under the spotlight. They played well at the Blackhawks Development Camp in June, getting many good reviews. Check this out from Charlie Roumeliotis of nbcsports.com:
On Boqvist: “He may have been the youngest skater at camp, but Boqvist certainly didn’t act or play like it. You can see the potential he has to be a great player in the NHL one day, which will probably be sooner than later for the Blackhawks.”
On Beaudin: “It seems like Beaudin isn’t gaining as much attention because the focus has been on Boqvist and Jokiharju, but he had a strong camp. During the scrimmage on Friday, he broke up a 2-on-1 in the final minute of a 2-2 game, which turned out to be a game-saver considering his team went on to win in a shootout.”
“Not that the end result mattered here, but it does in the NHL and those are the kinds of plays that coaches notice.”
Blackhawks Prospects Future
The future of the Blackhawks prospects is definitely brighter than in past years. Unfortunately, if the team has another down year like last they may be forced to bring them up sooner than anticipated. This is a risky move, especially for defence prospects. Throwing the youngsters into the fire before they’ve had a chance to add weight and experience is a huge challenge. It is an easier transition with forwards as Alex DeBrincat proved last season by leading the Blackhawks in goals as a rookie. Hopefully, there will be others following DeBrincat by playing their way onto the roster this season.
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