Some of his moves, or lack of, may have been questionable in recent months/years, but there’s no denying that Stan Bowman has done a pretty terrific job building up the farm system for this Chicago Blackhawks organization. That statement received some validation with five Hawks making the Hockey Prospectus list of the top 100 prospects in the NHL.
Of the five, the highest was Teuvo Teravainen coming in at no. 11. Teravainen was the first round pick of the Blackhawks this past summer, and was considered quite the steal when they were able to land him at no. 18.
It may take a season or two for Teravainen to reach the NHL, but he has the skill set to become a star in this league. His size is the only setback for a kid with fantastic offensive abilities, both with his puck handling and his playmaking ability. If he can make the full-time adjustment to center a smooth one, he’ll be a force with this team.
Brandon Saad was the second-highest for the Hawks, coming in at no. 30 overall. Like Teravainen, Saad was considered to be a steal, when the Hawks landed the first round talent in the second round (and their fourth overall pick) in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. He’s a favorite to potentially make the team this year.
Saad absolutely lit it up in junior last year, for the Saginaw Spirit, so there’s little for him to prove down there. He has the size and skill, as well as the smarts, to be a very effective winger in the top six for this team this year. Even better, his status as the no. 43 overall pick has led him to play like he has something to prove.
Another player we could see with the Hawks this year, if there is a season, is Brandon Pirri, who came in at no. 50. Pirri has been taking on the AHL grind in the organization the past few years, but may finally have a chance to crack the regular lineup. The Hawks need someone to step up and take that second line center spot. Pirri is a candidate, and his hockey sense and playmaking skills could help him to grab it before long.
The final two that made the list for the Hawks are Mark McNeill, who came in at no. 63, and Jeremy Morin at no. 90. McNeill was the Hawks’ first round pick a year ago, but some of the shine seems to have fallen off of him, mostly thanks to Saad coming along as quickly as he has.
Nonetheless, he’s the type of kid who does a lot of things well. He’s smart, moves the puck well, and is a strong two-way player. But is he elite? That’s a question he’ll have to answer.
Morin was an exciting player in this organization a couple of years ago, but injuries have held him back from getting above the AHL full-time. With some roster spots open, he has a chance to crack the roster to open the year. But he’s going to have to prove he belongs with his play.