The preseason provides for an excellent look at future talent throughout the NHL, similar to a farm system akin to the MLB, with foreign talent facing off against collegiate stars and top prospects looking to face off with the league’s best. This is even truer for the Chicago Blackhawks, considering the defending champions also have the fortune of having a rich, prospect filled, farm system.
Of the talent on display today, three forwards who do not have household names and minimal NHL experience were able to light the lamp at the famous Joe Louis Arena against a normally phenomenal goalie in Jimmy Howard.
Leading the team with two goals, and earning a No. 1 star against the rival Detroit Red Wings, Byron Froese scored his first two goals of the preseason today. Froese entered Blackhawks camp having split time between the ECHL Toledo Walleye and AHL Rockford IceHogs, earning a reputation as a physical center.
Considering his average frame, these two goals and Froese’s refined game has shown he wants to spend a full season in the AHL, where he will have to wait his time behind a plethora of excellent NHL caliber centers.
At 17:06 in the first period, the Blackhawks took the decisive 2-1 lead thanks to the stick of Joakim Nordstrom, his first goal outside of European play. The 6-foot-2 center is a third-round pick, and slated to play in Rockford. Unlike Froese however, Nordstrom’s game appears well-rounded, as he registered three assists in eleven AHL games last year to go along with a +2 rating. Today, Nordstrom was +1 while tying the team lead in hits with two, and going 50 percent from the face off dot.
Last but not least, left wing Garret Ross was able to put the puck in the back of the net to begin a two goal third period. Ross spent his previous years with the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League, a team that also produced teammate Brandon Saad.
Ross’s physicality will be on display in Rockford as well this year, where he will begin his first year of a three-year entry-level contract. A scorer at the OHL level, Ross must prove his worth through hard clean play, rather than a sloppy physical presence. His two penalties, including one for roughing Brendan Smith, did not look good.
All in all, it was another successful preseason tilt for the Chicago Blackhawks against Detroit, who they will only meet twice the entire season. As conferences realign, players move around, and stars continue to perfect their game, look for these Blackhawks prospects to be making some noise for many years to come.
Follow Mike Guzman on Twitter @Mike486