Prospects giving Blackhawks plenty to think about

Prospects giving Blackhawks plenty to think about

There are certain phrases that have become part of the Blackhawks’ vernacular. Coach Joel Quenneville has uttered one several times in the short time he’s been back in Chicago.

“We like tough decisions,” Quenneville said on Tuesday night.

If that’s the case, the Blackhawks have got to be loving their current situation.

Be it Alexandre Fortin, Gustav Forsling or Vinnie Hinostroza, among others, the Blackhawks are seeing some impressive performances from their prospects. That’s good, considering the vacancies, especially on the forward lines, the Blackhawks need to fill. The good impressions continued on Tuesday night, when those three, as well as Nick Schmaltz and Ryan Hartman had great outings in the team’s 6-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings.

“We could talk about all of our young guys tonight,” Quenneville said following the game, “and it was positive in every facet.”

Hinostroza, who was moved back to the wing — he said he felt better there than at center — got his first goal of the preseason. His speed has been noticeable throughout. Schmaltz, back at center after playing some wing, tipped in his first goal. Hartman provided the net-front presence. Fortin lined up with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov and didn’t get rattled. Forsling was strong again and making some slick passes.

Yes, the situation isn’t so bad, really.


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“I would say it’s definitely deeper,” Quenneville said of this group of young players. “Definitely the type of ingredients that we’re looking for for our team, the addition of speed and depth and skill. To me, that’s the way the game is progressing, so I think it can be healthy and not just [for] these guys coming into our lineup. They’re going to be in some really important spots for us. So that could be a good sign.”

As previously written, some of the Blackhawks’ roster decisions also come down to contracts and playing time as much as preseason performances. There’s no doubt Fortin and Forsling have done some tremendous work this fall. They’ve turned heads, and they’ve turned the right heads. Do the Blackhawks see enough in Fortin to keep him here and burn the first season of his entry-level contract? Is there a place for Forsling among a defensive group that’s a lot deeper this season than it was the last? And if Forsling stays, you would think the Blackhawks would want to give him enough playing time to justify his staying here. As Quenneville always says about prospects, the team wants to keep them playing.

It sounds like some of these young hopefuls will get one more look on Saturday in the Blackhawks’ preseason finale against St. Louis. Decisions, decisions. The Blackhawks love when they have to make the tough ones. They’ve got to be enjoying their situation immensely right now.

“Nothing got sorted out [Tuesday]. [They] made it real difficult on us. It’s real positive organizationally,” Quenneville said. “These young guys, we need some of them. How many we need will be determined going forward, because they all enhanced their chances.”

Hawks Talk Podcast: Evaluating Blackhawks defensemen prospects with Mark Eaton


Hawks Talk Podcast: Evaluating Blackhawks defensemen prospects with Mark Eaton

On the latest edition of the Hawks Talk Podcast, Blackhawks director of player development Mark Eaton joins the show to evaluate the organization’s top defensemen prospects and where each of them is at in their developments. Which ones could make the NHL jump next season?

Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis offer their takeaways from the Eaton interview and outlook the Blackhawks blue line group as a whole.

1:00 – Eaton on Henri Jokiharju’s development

3:30 – Adam Boqvist’s growth in North America

6:50 – Evaluating Nicolas Beaudin’s progression

8:15 – Surprised about Ian Mitchell’s decision to return to college?

10:55 – Assessing Chad Krys in college and AHL

13:10 – Challenge between stressing defensive side of game but not taking away from who the player is

15:55 – Which defensemen prospects could be in NHL next season?

18:25 – The message Erik Gustafsson’s breakout season sends to prospects

21:15 – Takeaways from Eaton interview

31:25 – Reviewing Blackhawks defensemen contracts

33:35 – Thoughts on Gustav Forsling

35:20 – The challenge for Blackhawks defense this offseason

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast


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Reports: Blackhawks among finalists for a pair of international forwards


Reports: Blackhawks among finalists for a pair of international forwards

The Blackhawks are always active in the overseas market. Over the last few years, Dominik Kahun, David Kampf, Michal Kempny, Jacob Nilsson, Artemi Panarin and Jan Rutta are among the notable Chicago signings that have come from there. 

And they continue to be an attractive destination.

The Blackhawks have reportedly expressed interest in 24-year-old Russian winger Ilya Mikheyev and 26-year-old Swedish forward Anton Wedin, and the feeling is mutual.

Of the 30 NHL teams that have checked in on Mikheyev, TSN's Darren Dreger reported on Tuesday that the Blackhawks are among the finalists — although it appears the Toronto Maple Leafs could be the frontrunners. Mikheyev, who's 6-foot-2, 194 pounds, racked up 45 points (23 goals, 22 assists) in 62 games this season for Avangard Omsk of the KHL, and tallied 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 13 postseason contests. His decision is expected to come this weekend.

Wedin has also reportedly narrowed his list, which includes the Blackhawks. He had a breakout season in the Swedish Hockey League, where he compiled 27 points (14 goals, 13 assists) in 32 regular-season games and nine points (two goals, seven assists) in seven playoff contests with Timra IK.

The 5-foot-11, 194-pound winger is expected to make his decision either before or after the 2019 IIHF World Championship, depending on whether or not he plays for Sweden.

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