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Back-to-back losses by the Chicago Blackhawks have them moving closer to the bottom of the standings than a Stanley Cup Playoff spot. That has been the plan all along. The 2022-23 NHL season is not about results but rather setting up for the future. That is where our prospects experts Mario Tirabassi and Greg Boysen come in. Our weekly Rebuild Report keeps you updated on all of the Blackhawks’ prospects around the globe and how they fared over the past week. Mario takes you around the junior and college ranks across North America while Greg keeps tabs on those playing professionally here and overseas.
Mario’s Notebook: Sleepless in Seattle
- I can’t remember a time, off the top of my head, when two Blackhawks’ first-round picks played on the same junior team. It will happen now with the Seattle Thunderbirds in the WHL after their acquisition of 2021 pick Nolan Allan. In a massive trade, Seattle acquired Allan and Reese Shaw from the Prince Albert Raiders in exchange for three players and six future picks.
- Nolan Allan was serving as the Prince Albert Captain this season and had racked up four goals and 11 points in 16 WHL games this season. He now joins 2022 pick Kevin Korchinski on the Seattle blue line. Korchinski has three goals and 21 points in 14 games this season for the Thunderbirds, ranking third on the team in points and fourth in the league for points by a defenseman.
- Korchinski and Allan may or may not end up playing on the same defensive pair, but having those two in the lineup on a nightly basis will help Seattle’s push to get back to the WHL Final after losing last season to the Edmonton Oil Kings.
- In other Blackhawks’ first-round pick news, Sam Rinzel will be playing for Team USA at the World Junior A Challenge.
- Rinzel has one goal and seven points in 13 USHL games this season with the Waterloo Black Hawks.
- Flying a bit under the radar in the college ranks, Boston University’s Ryan Greene is off to a hot start for the Terriers. He earned the Hockey East Player of the Week honors again this season after putting up six points last weekend, five coming in one game against UMass.
- Greene has five goals and 11 points in nine games this season, good for second on the team as a freshman.
- Speaking of the Terriers, goaltending prospect Drew Commesso won back-to-back starts this past weekend for Boston. Combined in his two wins over UMass, Commesso allowed just three goals on 50 shots faced and improved his record this season to 4-1-0.
- At Denver, Aidan Thompson got on the board not once but twice this past weekend.
- The 2022 third-round pick missed the start of the season due to injury but has recorded four points in his first four games with the Pioneers.
- Other notable points updates for Blackhawks prospects include Gavin Hayes with 17 points through 19 OHL games, Ethan Del Mastro with 16 points in 15 OHL games, Samuel Savoie with 16 points in 17 QMJHL games, and Jake Wise with 12 points in 12 NCAA games.
- Ladies and Gentlemen, Connor freakin’ Bedard…
- There really is nothing more you can say about him. He’s a generational, potential franchise-altering prospect that nearly every NHL team should be trying to get their hands on, let alone the Blackhawks.
- Not to be outdone, but still being outdone, is fellow WHL draft-eligible prospect Brayden Yager. He’s really, really good and hovering around the No. 5 or No. 6 prospect in the 2023 Draft Class.
- Yager is just one of many prospects that Blackhawks fans should get familiar with at the top of this 2023 class, just in case Bedard and Adam Fantilli are not options.
- The question of if Fantilli is closing the gap on Bedard is off-base. No one is catching Bedard. But, Fantilli is doing a great job of starting to separate himself in the trio of himself, Bedard, and Matvei Michkov at the top of the class. With 23 points in 12 NCAA games with the University of Michigan, Fantilli leads all college players in scoring this season and continues to showcase his value as an all-around workhorse prospect.
- Blackhawks fans will have plenty to look forward to at the upcoming World Junior Championships. From The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler, at least four current Blackhawks prospects are in the running to represent their respective countries at the tournament.
- On top of those four mentioned in Wheeler’s predictions, Bedard, Fantilli, Leo Carson (Sweden), and Will Smith (USA) all deserve the attention of Blackhawks fans looking towards 2023 NHL Draft prospects.
Greg’s Notebook: Mitchell produces in return to lineup
The Rockford IceHogs spent the weekend in the Lone Star State and split a two-game set with the Texas Stars. After dropping Saturday night’s contest 3-2, the IceHogs got revenge with a 5-4 victory on Sunday. They capped off the week with a 6-1 win in a “School Day” game at the Grand Rapids Griffins on Wednesday morning. Rockford is now 6-5-0-1 on the season, and their 13 points are good enough for the fifth and final playoff spot in the Central Division. They are just three points behind the first-place Milwaukee Admirals.
- We’ll start with the prospect most Blackhawks fans are interested in, Lukas Reichel. He was held to just one assist during the weekend set in Texas. He bounced back with his first multi-point game since Oct. 29 with a goal and an assist in Grand Rapids. Reichel has six goals and 14 points in 12 games and is one of six IceHogs averaging at least one point per game.
- Defenseman Ian Mitchell made his season debut in Texas. He had an assist on Sunday before breaking out on Wednesday. He scored two power-play goals and added two assists in the blowout win over the Griffins.
- One of those players averaging a point per game or better is defenseman Jakub Galvas. The 23-year-old blueliner had assists on Saturday and Wednesday. He and David Gust are tied for the team lead in helpers with 10. Galvas has 11 points in 11 games.
- Cole Guttman, who was impressive in training camp, returned to the lineup after suffering a concussion on Oct. 15. He made an immediate impact with his first professional goal in the loss to the Stars on Saturday. He added two assists in Grand Rapids, the first two of his AHL career.
- Isaak Phillips closed out October with a three-game point streak but hadn’t found the scoresheet in the three games since. That changed with a goal and an assist in Sunday’s win over the Stars. The young defenseman has a goal and six points and leads the team with a plus-8 rating.
- The Indy Fuel has a busy weekend with three straight road games. They lost 4-3 in overtime to the Cincinnati Cyclones on Friday night. Chad Yetman picked up an assist in the losing effort, while Alex Wideman set a new franchise record with his 74th career assist. The Fuel lost Saturday night’s rematch 5-2. Yetman had the primary assists on both goals, including Jakub Pour’s second of the season. The weekend concluded with a 2-1 win at the Kalamazoo Wings on Sunday. Yetman and Pour had the assists on Kirill Chaika’s game-winning goal in the second period.
- In the KHL, Artur Kayumov scored the lone goal for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl in their 2-1 loss to Dinamo Minsk on Friday. The 24-year-old winger has seven goals and 19 points in 29 games.
- Victor Stjernborg spent last weekend playing for Sweden in the Karjala Cup, an international tournament held in Finland. The 2021 fourth-round pick finished off his tournament with a pair of assists in a 6-1 win over the host country.
- One of the top prospects for the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, Leo Carlsson, played with Stjernborg in the Karjala Cup. He had three goals and five points in his three games, including two goals and an assist versus Finland. Carlsson might be the best player in the draft, not named Bedard, Fantilli, or Michkov.
- Another European player to keep an eye on as we get closer to the draft is Dailbor Dvorsky. The Slovakian-born center is currently playing for AIK in Sweden’s second-tier league. He had four goals and seven points in 12 games. Dvorsky is touted for his great hands and shooting ability. He had the potential to be a top-six forward in the NHL.
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