The CHGO Rebuild Report is picking up steam as hockey season is in full swing across the globe. College teams took the ice over the weekend, and American Hockey League squads are getting ready to start their quest for the Calder Cup, all while North American junior and European professional leagues have already begun. Mario Tirabassi and Greg Boysen will be bringing the prospect coverage notebook-style all season across the OHL, QMJHL, WHL, USHL, NCAA, AHL, and Europe for all Blackhawks prospects and a couple of players we are keeping our eyes on for the 2023 NHL Draft!

Mario’s Notebook: Blackhawks trim camp roster with Junior cuts

  • As the regular season sits right around the corner, the Blackhawks are trimming their rosters down to who will be in the NHL, who will be in the AHL awaiting their call to the NHL this season, and which players will be sent back to their respective junior clubs. Even after looking like one of the best six defensemen in training camp, Kevin Korchinski was sent back to the WHL with the Seattle Thunderbirds. Showing flashes of the offensive skill that made him the seventh-overall pick in this past July’s NHL Entry Draft, Korchinski will likely be one of the leading scorers for defensemen in the WHL this season with Seattle.
  • Having just turned 18 years old before the Draft, Korchinski has a ton of time to develop all aspects of his game before making the jump to the professional ranks. Could he play two more full seasons in the WHL, making his arrival to the NHL at least the 2024-25 season? Maybe. But with where he is now in his development, it could be sooner than that. Time will tell.
  • Along with Korchinski, the Blackhawks have also recently sent back junior players Samuel Savoie and Nolan Allan.
  • Staying in the WHL and a fellow first-round pick by the Blackhawks, Nolan Allan will already be seeing a lot of ice time this season with the Prince Albert Raiders as a top-pair player. Still, he will now also bear the responsibility of wearing the “C.” Allan was named Captain for the Raiders this season, looking to help lead them back to the postseason after just squeaking in last year.
  • Savoie made physical impacts on the ice in his handful of games during the preseason. Comparisons to Andrew Shaw have grown over time with Blackhawks fans, and while those are lofty expectations, Savoie feels like the kind of player who could live up to them as close to the real Shaw as possible. In years past, players like Ryan Hartman and Brandon Hagel have been compared to Shaw, but neither was at the agitator level that the former two-time Stanley Cup Champion truly was. With Savoie, half of his game is based on getting under the skin of his opponent. It’s not a skill you can teach. It’s a personality trait. He’s got it; now the skill set has to eventually reach NHL standards. He’ll be one to watch with the Gatineau Olympiques in the QMJHL this season.
  • In the NCAA, another Blackhawks prospect was named a Captain as 2018 draft pick Jake Wise was named one of two Captains for the Ohio State Buckeyes. Wise has a goal and an assist in the first two games of the season for Ohio State.
  • Ryan Greene made a big impact in his college debut with Boston University, recording two goals and an assist in his first-ever NCAA game. The performance earned him the Hockey East Rookie of the Week honors.
  • Things have started well for Blackhawks goaltending prospects in the NCAA as Boston’s Drew Commesso earned the win in his first start of the season, and Dominic Basse, who transferred to St. Cloud State this season, earned a shutout in his first start of the year.
  • In the USHL, both Blackhawks prospects Nils Juntorp (Dubuque) and Sam Rinzel (Waterloo) have two points in their first three games of the season. Rinzell with a pair of assists, Juntorp with an assist, and his first USHL goal.
  • In potential Blackhawks prospect news, Connor Bedard leads the WHL in scoring, obviously. His five goals and nine points through five games isn’t the highest point-per-game pace in the league just yet, but give it time. Adam Fantilli and 2022 13th overall pick Frank Nazar begin their college season at the University of Michigan tomorrow against Lindenwood.

Greg’s Notebook: IceHogs kick off preseason & European prospects produce

  • The Rockford IceHogs have had a busy week. Their roster began to fill out as their training camp opened on Monday, then they took to the road for a pair of road games at the Iowa Wild. The biggest name to head west on I-90 was Lukas Reichel, who was demoted on Tuesday with Cole Guttman, Michal Teply, Josiah Slavin, and Isaak Phillips. Other players who joined the IceHogs roster this week include Jakub Galvas, Mike Hardman, David Gust, Kale Howarth, Dylan Sikura, Nicolas Beaudin, Brett Seney, and Luke Philp.
  • Head coach Anders Sorensen is in his first full season as IceHogs head coach. He took over on an interim basis after Derek King was promoted to the Blackhawks bench last season. After getting the team to the Calder Cup Playoffs, the organization took the interim tag off his title. Sorensen, muck like Luke Richardson in Chicago, is looking for the effort in these two games against Iowa.

“I think we are going to be pretty deep. From the goalies to the back end, to the front, we like our group. We have a great staff, as well, and I lean on them a lot. We’re excited.”

Anders Sorensen on his early impression of the IceHogs.
  • The IceHogs debuted their new logos on Wednesday night. Gone is the old crest with the team name in it, and it is replaced with just the head of Hammy the Hog, looking mean as ever.
  • Rockford took to the ice in Iowa with a somewhat full lineup. Many of these players will be in the same spots come opening night. The players who cleared waivers earlier Wednesday morning were not available to play but should be on the ice for tonight’s rematch. Their roster is pretty much set except for a couple of players likely heading down after the Blackhawks’ final exhibition game on Saturday afternoon.
  • Reichel was back centering the top line with Michal Teply on his left, whose season took off last year when added to a line with the young German forward. Veteran David Gust played on the right side. He was a key contributor to the Chicago Wolves’ Calder Cup victory last spring and was a great addition to the club.
  • The game itself was not exactly a barn burner. It appeared Sammy Walker’s early first-period power-play goal for the Wild was going to hold up. Then D.J. Busdecker, who hit the post earlier in the contest, beat Jesper Wallstedt with a redirect to tie the game with just 14 seconds left on the clock. However, in overtime, Walker struck again to give Iowa the 2-1 win. These two teams will hook up again on Thursday night. Rockford opens the regular season in Winnipeg with a pair of games at the Manitoba Moose on Oct. 15 & 16.
  • Meanwhile, in Russia, 2021 sixth-round draft pick Ilya Safonov had himself quite the night. On Tuesday night, he scored a pair of goals for Ak Bars Kazan in their 5-4 overtime loss to Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg. The 21-year-old center finished his night with seven shots on goal in 11:37 of ice time. He currently has three goals and an assist in 11 KHL games.
  • Artur Kayumov, a second-round draft pick in 2016, picked up an assist in Lokomotiv Yaroslavl’s 2-1 win over Sibir Novosibirsk on Tuesday. He has struggled to put up points this season, with just five assists in 13 games. He went five straight games without a point but had helpers in two of his last three games.
  • Riku Tohila had a goal in Saturday’s 6-1 loss to Tappara U20. The 6-foot-8 center is off to an excellent start with four goals and seven points in 10 games for JYP U20 in Finland’s top junior league.
  • Although he isn’t a Blackhawks prospect, we can still keep tabs on Matvei Michkov, who will be one of the top picks of the 2023 NHL Entry Draft. He made one appearance in the KHL with SKA St. Petersburg before being sent to the VHL, Russia’s equivalent to the AHL, where he has three goals and an assist in two games.

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