By Thomas Gibbons
Development camp is the closest thing Blackhawks fans have to hockey before training camp so it is a reason to get excited.
The organizations long list of prospects will be skating at the Fifth Third Ice Arena this week with a scrimmage to close out the camp on Friday. Notable names in Chicago this week are Kirby Dach, Adam Boqvist, newly acquired Alex Nylander, Ian Mitchell and Nicolas Beaudin. But there are plenty more names to be intrigued by this week as we get a glimpse of possible future Blackhawks.
As pointed out by mutiple Chicago media outlets, the Blackhawks and Mitchell are expected to talk about his future this week. Mitchell decided to return to school for his junior year and feels that is the best decision for him. ‘‘I want to be patient and be a dominant player in every single shift in college hockey before I make the jump,’’ Mitchell said in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times last week. ‘‘Denver is a great place to develop. So I love it here, and I don’t feel I am ready to leave quite yet.
But according to the Athletic’s Scott Powers, the Blackhawks are expected to make a pitch to Mitchell this week in hopes of him forgoing another season at the University of Denver and signing with the Blackhawks.
Mitchell seems pretty certain in his decision. He likes Denver and after being named team captain in May, he seems more certain than ever to return. If he did sign with the Blackhawks, he would log big minutes in Rockford and could see the NHL ice this season. But it looks like Stan Bowman will have to be patient with one of his top defensive prospects. It will be an intersting storyline to follow this week and when we hear from Mitchell.
The Blackhawks have built up quiet an pipeline of prospects. The defense is strong with Boqvist, Mitchell, Beaudin, Chad Krys and Alex Vlasic leading the group. For the forwards, Nylander, MacKenzie Entwistle, Reese Johnson, Phillip Kurashev and Jake Wise are players to keep an eye on. As for the goalies, Alexis Gravel is one to know. Overall, it’s a strong group with a lot of potential to be apart of the Blackhawks someday.
Tibit from Mark Eaton, Blackhawks Head of Player Development:
Day 1 Notes
- Penn State center Evan Barratt is at Blackhawks development camp but not participating on the ice. He underwent offseason hip surgery about three months ago. He has started skating and is expected to be full-go at the start of the NCAA season.
- Kirby Dach is ready to go. Look at this move!
- Adam Boqvist in a skating drill
- The biggest news from Day 2 from Development Camp was off the ice as the Blackhawks traded Artem Anisimov to the Ottawa Senators for Zack Smith. Smith, 31, has an AAV of $3,250,000 and he is signed through the 2020-21 season. First off, the Blackhawks were able to deal Anisimov without attaching draft picks or prospects, something many thought was going to have to be done if they wanted to move on. Second, is this an upgrade for the Blackhawks? There is an argument. Smith has a career faceoff win percentage of 50.7 while Anisimov sits at 45.9%. The Blackhawks penalty kill allowed the most power play goals in the league last year. They desperately needed more players not named Jonathan Toews to win faceoffs in their defensive zone. They signed Ryan Carpenter and adding Smith gives them two players who win faceoffs and kill penalties and will have to own that role with the team this season. It was a glaring weakness and the Blackhawks addressed it.
- Ian Mitchell continues to double-down on his decision to return to school and not sign with the Blackhawks. He states he is fully committed to signing with the Blackhawks, just not this season. Mitchell was named the team captain for the University of Colorado in May and aims to be the best player in college hockey this upcoming season. “I’ve made my commitment, and being announced the captain of the team too, it’s made it difficult to change my decision,” Mitchell said on Tuesday. “I wouldn’t really want to do that to my teammates.”
- While it’s just development camp, the videos of Kirby Dach keep getting better and better.
- Nicolas Beaudin is a prospect I’m going to keep a closer eye on next season. Along with Mitchell, Adam Boqvist, Chad Krys and the rest of the Blackhawks defensive prospects, Beaudin could turn out to be one of the best. He preaches a two way game and the Blackhawks will need that with Boqvist and Mitchell being more offensive minded players. Beaudin has seen a lot of success in the QMJHL, most recently totaling 8 points in 16 playoff games last season. He will indeed make the jump to professional hockey and play the Rockford IceHogs this season. Boqvist is also eligible to play for the IceHogs this season but he could make some noise to earn some playing time in the NHL.
This post will be updated with news, video and anything else worth noting on camp this week.