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As we speak, the CHGO Blackhawks crew is hitting the road to South Bend, IN, to check out Notre Dame and Michigan at the Compton Ice Arena. Blackhawks prospects Landon Slaggert and Ryder Rolston are leading the No. 18 Irish as they take on the No. 3 Wolverines, led by 2023 Draft prospect and potential future Blackhawk Adam Fantilli. It’ll be a good trip to see these three in action live and get a sense of where these players are at in their development and potential timeline to the NHL.
Elsewhere, the IceHogs are getting a few reinforcements back in net as Brett Seney, David Gust, and Lukas Reichel continue to lead the offensive attack. For more on the Chicago prospect system, let’s dive into the latest Rebuild Report notebooks from Mario Tirabassi and Greg Boysen.
Mario’s Notebook: The CHGO Crew Goes To College
- There is one 2022 Draft prospect that we were falling in love with over the summer that I haven’t really focused on yet in one of my notebooks, and that’s Jay Zawaski’s favorite new prospect Samuel Savoie. Playing in the QMJHL with the Gatineau Olympiques, Savoie has six goals and ten points in 14 games this season. In his last outing, Savoie tallied a goal and two assists in a 6-4 defeat.
- Savoie is currently riding a three-game goal streak. After recording 33 points in 64 games with Gatineau last season, he’s off to a much better production rate to begin this year. His game is not predicated on scoring so much as it is on being a tough player to play against. Savoie’s likely path to the NHL is to be like an Andrew Shaw-type player, where he can contribute points or kill penalties whilst also being a physical player and a pest to opponents.
- Elsewhere in the 2022 Draft Class, Kevin Korchinski continues to be the top prospect in the Chicago system when it comes to North American players. He has recorded the most points in the Blackhawks system for U24 prospects with 19 in 12 WHL games with the Seattle Thunderbirds this season, two ahead of Gavin Hayes’ 17 points in 16 OHL games with the Flint Firebirds. His 1.58 points per game rate is also the highest of the Blackhawks’ U24 prospects, ahead of Lukas Reichel’s 1.22 points per game rate in the AHL.
- His 19 points this season are second in the WHL among defensemen, just behind three players tied for the defensemen lead with 21 points each, but all having played significantly more games so far this season than Korchinski. His 1.58 points per game rate is eighth in the WHL overall amongst players to play at least ten games and is the highest among WHL defensemen.
- That scoring rate is getting attention, as it should, and Korchinski is at the top of the defensive heap when it comes to Canadian prospects for the Blackhawks. In his first mock roster for Canada at the upcoming World Junior Championships beginning in late December, TSN’s Craig Button has Korchinksi playing in a top-pair role for the defending Gold Medalists.
- But as you’ll notice in the lineup, not only is Korchinski potentially in line to play a significant role, but so are Ethan Del Mastro and Nolan Allan. After being an injury replacement this past summer at the World Junior Championships for Canada, Del Mastro played his way into the lineup and stayed there a few games into the tournament. It’s awesome to see he’ll likely be returning to the Canadian squad and could be joined by a third Blackhawks defensive prospect in 2021 first-round pick Allan.
- As you’ll also notice, top 2023 Draft Class prospects Connor Bedard and Adam Fantilli are expected to play for the Canadians at this winter’s World Junior Championships. No surprise there.
- I’m looking forward to our CHGO Blackhawks road trip today. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a hockey game at Notre Dame. I’m excited to get to see Fantilli in action, as well as catch up with Blackhawks prospects Ryder Rolston and Landon Slaggert.
- While Slaggert and his family have a long history with the Notre Dame hockey program, he’s not the only one with an impressive lineage that will be playing in this weekend’s Notre Dame-Michigan series.
- Rolston, acquired from the Avalanche by the Blackhawks in April of 2021 in the vaunted Carl Soderberg trade, is leading the Irish this season with four goals and nine points in his first ten games of the year. He is the son of former NHLer Brian Rolston, who played over 1,200 games in his career with the New Jersey Devils, Boston Bruins, Avalanche, New York Islanders, and Minnesota Wild from 1994-2012.
- So, Connor Bedard keeps being amazing.
- The unquestioned top prospect in the 2023 NHL Draft Class, Bedard leads the WHL in scoring this season with 14 goals and 36 points in 17 games with the Regina Pats. The Blackhawks will need to start losing some more games if they are going to get back on the tank tracks this season.
- Not to be outdone, Adam Fantilli, who has been mentioned more than once in this notebook (for obvious reasons), continues to light up the NCAA.
- Much like Bedard, Fantilli is leading the NCAA in scoring with nine goals and 20 points in 10 games, which is currently ahead of Jack Eichel’s pace as a freshman in the 2014-15 season at Boston University. Eichel ended that season with 26 goals and 71 points in 40 NCAA games. Fantilli is on-pace for 80 points in a 40-game season if Michigan were to play as many games as Boston did in Eichel’s year.
- The Blackhawks will also have to do more losing to increase their odds for Fantilli, who could go second behind Bedard.
- Two other 2023 Draft prospects to keep your eyes on, just in case the Blackhawks are picking outside the top three picks, are Brayden Yager and Will Smith. Not the Will Smith that enjoys getting jiggy with it. Although this Will Smith may also enjoy getting jiggy from time to time, who knows?
- This Will Smith is a forward with the U.S. National Team Development Program that is scoring at an impressive rate in the USHL and with the USNTDP this season. In 22 combined games with the USNTDP and the U18 club in the USHL, Smith has17 goals and 43 points. He is on pace for 103 points in the USHL alone this season and is ranked No. 16 in the 2023 Draft Class by TSN’s Craig Button. He is committed to Boston College next season.
- As for Yager, he’s doing just fine as “the other” top draft-eligible WHL prospect this season. Behind Bedard, Yager is sixth in the league for U18 draft-eligible prospects with eight goals and 20 points in 16 games with the Moose Jaw Warriors. He is ranked as the No. 4 prospect in the 2023 Draft Class by TSN’s Bob McKenzie and No. 5 by Button.
Greg’s Notebook: IceHogs earn three points, Kayumov stays hot, Michkov dazzles
The Rockford IceHogs had a successful three-point weekend on home ice. They beat the Grand Rapids Griffins 4-1 on Saturday night. The following afternoon, the IceHogs looked like they were on their way to a four-point weekend as they held a 4-2 lead over the Iowa Wild with less than two minutes to play but lost 5-4 in a shootout.
- Top prospect Lukas Reichel bounced back after a tough game last Wednesday versus the Milwaukee Admirals. His performance in a 6-4 loss in front of the Blackhawks brass was heavily criticized by his head coach Andres Sorensen and himself. Reichel started his weekend with the game-winning goal against the Griffins, his fifth on the season. He did not find the scoring sheet on Sunday. Reichel had five shots on goal and finished the pair of games as a plus-1. He is second on the team with five goals and 11 points.
“I know I got to be way better. I was minus-4. It’s not good enough. I think we have the line that should score goals and not get scored on. Definitely got to get better. I want to learn from it next game.”Lukas Reichel from Scott Powers of The Athletic.
- Michal Teply returned to action this weekend after missing Wednesday’s game. The 2019 fourth-round pick made his case to stay in the lineup. After getting no points in his first four games, he had back-to-back two-point efforts. Teply had two assists versus the Griffins, then followed that up with a goal and another helper against the Wild. His five shots on goal Sunday were a season high.
- Defenseman Jakub Galvas continued his hot stretch. He had assists on five of the IceHogs’ eight goals over the weekend: two on Saturday and three more Sunday. He has a goal and nine points on the season, all coming in his last five games while being a team-high plus-5. He had two goals and 20 points in 59 games last season, so he is well on his way to shattering those totals.
- Defenseman Louis Crevier picked up the first two points of his professional career with an assist in both games. He also had a career-high four shots on goal during Sunday’s loss to Iowa. The 6-foot-8 defender, taken in the seventh round of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, is getting his first taste of the AHL after a successful junior career in the QMJHL.
- Goaltender Mitchell Weeks had a nice weekend after struggling in his AHL debut last Wednesday. He stopped 25 of the 26 shots he faced against Grand Rapids and then made 47 saves in the loss to Iowa. He has a 3.31 GAA and .907 SV% in his three starts. Weeks will likely head back to the ECHL and the Indy Fuel soon. Dylan Wells cleared waivers and was sent back to Rockford. Jaxson Stauber was healthy enough to back up Weeks on Sunday. Arvid Soderblom will return to the IceHogs once Alex Stalock is back for the Blackhawks, who started skating this week.
- In off-ice news, play-by-play voice and media relations guru Joseph Zakrzewski announced that he and the IceHogs have parted ways. Reid Magnum, the voice of the University of Wisconsin’s woman’s team, called Saturday’s game, while WGN’s Joe Brand handled Sunday’s broadcast. There has been no announcement of a permanent replacement yet, but the organization has not even acknowledged Zakrzewski’s departure. All of us at CHGO want to wish Joey Z the best in his future endeavors. He is a star in the making and one of the best human beings in all of hockey!
- The Fuel had a successful weekend in Indianapolis. They beat the Iowa Heartlanders 5-2 on Friday for Military Appreciation Night. Chad Yetman had a goal and was a plus-2 on the night. Jan Mandat had a hat trick to lead the offensive attack. On Saturday, the Fuel hosted the Kalamazoo Wings on Turn Back the Clock Night, where they wore Indianapolis Racers jerseys, the same ones Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier wore when they briefly played for the defunct WHA franchise. The Fuel got goals from five different skaters, including Jakub Pour. Mandat had another goal and an assist, with Yetman picking up a helper too.
- Indy is now 5-1-0-0 on the season, sitting in second place in the ECHL’s Central Division, and are undefeated on home ice. Their 27 goals are the most in the Central. Mandat has seven goals on the season, which has him tied for the most in the league. Yetman is second on the team with five goals and third with eight points. Alex Wideman is the team leader with eight assists and 12 points. The Fuel has a busy weekend with road games at the Cincinnati Cyclones on Friday and Saturday before finishing in Kalamazoo on Sunday.
- Artur Kayumov has had quite a week for Lokomotiv Yaroslav in Russia. He had a goal and an assist in Saturday’s 4-0 victory over Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod. On Monday, he had an assist in regulation before scoring his beauty in the shootout to give Lokomotiv a 3-2 win against CSKA Moscow.
- Kayumov had another goal during Wednesday’s 4-3 overtime loss at HK Sochi. The 2016 second-round draft pick has five goals and nine points in his last 10 KHL games. He is up to six goals and 18 points in 27 games this season.
- Ilya Safonov picked up his ninth goal of the season for Ak Bars Kazan during Sunday’s 3-2 overtime win against Severstal Cherepovets. The 2021 sixth-round pick has 12 points in 25 KHL games.
- On Friday, Riku Tohila scored his 12th goal for JYP’s U20 team. The 6-foot-8 center now has 16 points in 21 games this season as he continues to impress in Finland.
- Mario has done a great job keeping you up to date on some of the top North American prospects for the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, so it is time to look at some dynamic kids in Europe. The top player on the continent is Matvei Michkov. He is playing in the VHL, Russia’s equivalent of the AHL, and has eight goals and 12 points in eight games. The exciting teenager also had this incredible shootout goal last week.
- Michkov is one of the most intriguing players in the 2023 draft class. In most years, he would be the consensus first-overall pick. The talent is incredible, but with a likely wait of at least three years to get him on your team, he might fall out of the top three. However, he will be worth the wait when you can score goals like this one.
- Sweden’s Leo Carlsson is quickly shooting up the draft boards. The 6-foot-3, 17-year-old forward has two goals and 12 points in 17 SHL games for Orebro HK.
- Carlsson is currently playing for Sweden in the U18 Five Nations tournament and scored this beauty on Thursday.
- Czechia’s Eduard Sale is another forward climbing up the rankings. The 6-foot-1 right wing has three goals and six points in his native country’s top professional league. He also has six goals and nine points in eight games for Czechia’s U18 national team this year. He should be a top-10 pick this summer and could climb into the top five before it’s all said and done.
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