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2022 Blackhawks Prospect Pyramid

Mario Tirabassi Avatar
September 16, 2022

If you know me and/or have been familiar with my take on hockey prospect rankings over the past few years, you’ll know my affinity towards a tier or “pyramid” system over ranking players 1-10/20/50/1,000 numerically. There are just too many debates over these kinds of lists that really get you into the weeds of where a player is in their development and where they may or may not stand within the organization. I’m not one to split hairs between a prospect ranked No. 4 and No. 7, when another person wouldn’t have either in their top-ten.

What is the prospect pyramid you may ask? It’s a simple solution to these lists that is not original to me, but I’m stealing it from Toronto Maple Leafs blogger/YouTuber/Fanatic Steve “Dangle” Glynn, who has ranked Maple Leafs prospects using the pyramid system for years. Instead of listing players, the pyramid system allows you to group players into different sections of the pyramid, with the very top of the rankings being the smallest but usually where you find the most-rare talent.

Eligibility

Being that this is my prospect pyramid, it means I can make up who is and who is not eligible to be considered a prospect. I have two simple disqualifiers: Players with more than 90 NHL games played or are older than 23 on October 12, 2022, the start of 2022-23 NHL season. So here are the 47 players we are looking at in the Chicago Blackhawks prospect system.

Forwards (27):
Frank Nazar
Ryan Greene
Samuel Savoie
Paul Ludwinski
Evan Barratt
Landon Slaggert
Riku Tohila
Liam Gorman
Nils Juntorp
Dominic James
Michal Teply
Colton Dach
Jalen Luypen
Cole Guttman
Aidan Thompson
Gavin Hayes
Mike Hardman
Artur Kayumov
Lukas Reichel
MacKenzie Entwistle
Jake Wise
Jakub Pour
Ryder Rolston
Antti Saarela
Victor Stjernborg
Josiah Slavin
Ilya Safanov

Defensemen (17):
Sam Rinzel
Kevin Korchinski
Ian Mitchell
Isaak Phillips
Filip Roos
Alec Regula
Nicolas Beaudin
Slava Demin
Nolan Allan
Ethan Del Mastro
Connor Kelley
Wyatt Kaiser
Jakub Galvas
Taige Harding
Louis Crevier
Michael Krutil
Alex Vlasic

Goalies (4):
Drew Commesso
Dominic Basse
Jaxson Stauber
Arvid Söderblom

Aside from having prospects traded away, you may notice some names missing from the list that you might have expected to see as “prospects.” Philipp Kursahev is not listed because he has played too many NHL games based on my prospect standards and both Reese Johnson and Parker Foo turned 24 this summer. Not the biggest shocks or gasps needed in reaction to this revelation.

Breakdown

Here’s how the Blackhawks prospect pyramid will be broken-down heading into the 2022-23 season and what each tier of the pyramid means.

Level One: Special Prospect/Franchise Player

This is a player that you look at and have zero doubts about their ability to be that top-line/top-pairing superstar player. Someone who you build an entire franchise around.

Level Two: Quality Prospect/Long-time NHL Player

This is a player who may not be that “future Hall of Fame” type player, but someone who is going to be around for a long time and will have a big impact on your team. These are players that no successful franchise is without.

Level Three: Good Prospect/Complimentary Player

These are players that don’t jump off the page as someone who is going to drive your team, but they make those small, timely impacts that can make good teams great.

Level Four: Average Prospect/Depth Player

This prospect level is good for players who have high expectations, but we don’t know much about them. Like if they have played in Europe or have had injury issues, for example. Players whose NHL aspirations may or may not pan out.

Level Five: Everyone Else

Like the title says, this is where everyone else lands. Usually, these are prospects and players that have unlikely futures in the NHL, or have not shown enough in their Junior careers to be excited about yet. These are just “guys.”

Now that we all understand each other, let’s get into the 2022-23 Chicago Blackhawks prospect pyramid!

Level One: Special Prospect/Franchise Player

No one.

In previous iterations of my prospect pyramid, there have been at least one, maybe two players in this level. Players whom I thought from their perceived potential and their on-ice capability at a young age, I felt were ready to be the next “It” guy in Chicago. None of them have panned out to be so.

Most recently, Kirby Dach.

This is why I am now learning from my misjudgments in the past and not trying to anoint the next great Blackhawk until I’m certain there is one. Sure, players like Lukas Reichel and Frank Nazar could turn out to be key cornerstones of the next era of hockey in Chicago, but I’m less inclined to say so definitively now.

Level Two: Quality Prospect/Long-time NHL Player

Lukas Reichel, Frank Nazar, Kevin Korchinski, Alex Vlasic, Drew Commesso

Lukas Reichel

While the Blackhawks Farm system doesn’t have that bonafide top prospect or next franchise player, they are growing their crop of players who are on the cusp of that level. While the rebuild won’t hinge on the development of Lukas Reichel, it sure would suck if he doesn’t pan-out or reach his current ceiling projections.

The same goes for second round picks Alex Vlasic and Drew Commesso. The timeline for the rebuild doesn’t hinge on them, but if they aren’t competent players, it’ll be a much longer rebuilding timeline. Two of the three most recent first-round picks by the Blackhawks, Kevin Korchinski and Frank Nazar, provide a ton of optimism for the future of the organization and all eyes will be on their first seasons after being selected seventh and 13th-overall respectively this past summer.

Level Three: Good Prospect/Complimentary Player

Landon Slaggert, Colton Dach, Jalen Luypen, Michael Teply, Paul Ludwinski, Ryan Greene, Dominic James, Isaak Phillips, Wyatt Kaiser, Ethan Del Mastro, Nolan Allan, Alec Regula, Ian Mitchell, Sam Rinzel, Arvid Söderblom

No good franchise is without solid complimentary players to put around their top stars. The modern dynasty Blackhawks teams wouldn’t have had their same levels of success without players like Dave Bolland or Johnny Oduya. This group has a ton of potential and some guys might level-up by the time they hit the NHL, and some may be given too lofty of expectations, but I feel like there is enough here to like for Chicago’s future.

Notably, defensemen Isaak Phillips, Wyatt Kaiser, Ethan Del Mastro, and Nolan Allan give us a lot to look forward to. At least one of those four will likely pan-out to be an NHL-regular and significant contributor to the Blackhawks, at least one. There is a lot to figure out in this group as well, like with Ian Mitchell. The biggest question with Mitchell is if he can crack the NHL lineup for good this season, or if he’ll be left behind as the next wave of young defensemen come into the organization.

I’m very excited to see where the development of forwards like Colton Dach and Landon Slaggert heads this season as they likely are playing their final years before making a decision on turning pro. Both of their ceilings could see them playing roles in the top-six for the Blackhawks in a few years, but it’s still a very big IF at this point in time.

Level Four: Average Prospect/Depth Player

MacKenzie Entwistle, Aidan Thompson, Samuel Savoie, Mike Hardman, Artur Kayumov, Evan Barratt, Josiah Slavin, Victor Stjernborg, Antti Saarela, Nicolas Beaudin, Michael Krutil, Louis Crevier, Filip Roos, Connor Kelley, Jakub Galvas, Jaxson Stauber

Much to the chagrin of Jay, Samuel Savoie lands in this depth group, but that’s not a bad thing. This is a group that could have a good number level-up as their development paths to the NHL become more clear. Some in this group have had their NHL development paths become more uncertain is just a few short years. Notably, former first-round pick Nicolas Beaudin. While he came into his professional career with a lot to offer offensively, I haven’t seen the progression since his rookie year in his all-around game. Being scratched in the AHL playoffs last season was not a good sign for his future with the club and, all things considered, this is a make or break year for him with the Blackhawks organization.

Elsewhere in this group are some solid players who could/should eventually play in bottom-six or bottom-pair roles in the NHL. We’ve already seen MacKenzie Entwistle make his way to the NHL on a more regular basis and the same might be in store for a player who made his NHL debut last season like Josiah Slavin or defenseman Jakub Galvas.

The rest of the eligible prospects fall into the final tier where basically everyone else lands. Not to say that these prospects don’t have a chance to turn into serviceable players at the professional ranks, but it’s currently hard to see a path for them to the NHL with the Blackhawks. Many of the European prospects land in this group because it’s hard to project what they might do in their career timelines if/when they come over to North America.

With already two first-round picks in the upcoming 2023 draft and a real chance they acquire one more before next June, there’s a good chance we see the upper two tiers get even more populated heading into next season. If things go according to plan this season, that top tier should get at least one name put in it, whether it be Connor Bedard, Adam Fantilli, Matvei Michkov, or another player that emerges as a slam-dunk from the 2023 draft class.

Hopefully this has solved all of the problems of how to rank and evaluate the Blackhawks’ organizational depth chart. I’m sure no one will have any problems with where any of these prospects were placed in my prospect pyramid. But that’s the beauty of all of this. It’s my pyramid. If you want to do your own pyramid, by all means, go ahead. It’s fun. We all are going to need as much fun as we can get this season.

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