Evaluating the Blackhawks at Draft, and previewing Prospect Camp
The 2011 Draft was not considered particularly deep, but the Chicago Blackhawks collected a total of 11 picks by the time the weekend was through, including Phillip Danault (pictured above). Danault was the Blackhawks' second pick (26th overall). Along with a solid set of selections throughout the Draft, Chicago's depth grew even more.
Let's take a quick look at the players Chicago drafted this year, as they will be part of the Chicago prospects camp that begins on Thursday, July 7th:
Mark McNeill, C (1st round/18th overall) - big, strong, smart center with good two-way game. Most recently of Prince Albert Raiders. Strong work ethic; scored 81 points in 70 games this season.
Phillip Danault, C (1st/26th) - hardworking, dedicated, natural center; excels at both ends of the ice. Lot of natural leadership skills. Most recently of Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL). Member of Canada's gold-medal team at the Ivan Hlinka tournament.
Adam Clendening, D (2nd/36th) - highly skilled; strong forechecker; superb stickhandling. Currently at Boston University; named to Hockey East All-Rookie Team. Went through the US National Team Development Program, and won gold with Team USA and 2009 and 2010 U-18 World Championships; was named to 200 All-Star Team.
Brandon Saad, D (2nd/43rd) - solid, physical two-way player; currently with Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League. Also a member of the USNTDP U-18 team that won gold in 2010.
Michael Paliotta, D (3rd/70th) - most recently of the USNTDP program; will be attending the University of Vermont (alma mater of Patrick Sharp, Tim Thomas and Martin St. Louis).
Klas Dahlbeck, D (3rd/79th) - currently with the Linkoping HC in the Swedish Elite League. Represented Sweden at the 2011 World Junior Championships.
Maxim Shalunov, RW (4th/109th) - currently with Chelyabinsk Traktor of the KHL. Won bronze with the Russian team at the 2011 U-18 World Championships.
Andrew Shaw, C (5th/139th) - scored 54 points and a +17 rating with the Owen Sound Attack last season; won the OHL championship with the OSA. Shaw was also honored with the OHL's Hardest Working Player of the Year award.
Sam Jardine, D (6th/169th) - most recently with the Camrose Kodiaks in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. Also played for the Canada West club at the 2010 U-19 World Junior-A Tournament; will attend The Ohio State University this fall.
Alex Broadhurst, C (7th/199th) - most recently with the Green Bay Gamblers; will attend the University of Nebraska - Omaha in the fall.
Johan Mattsson, G (7th/211th) - most recently of Sodertalje of the J20 Superelit league in Sweden; posted a league-high .930 sv% with 2.62 GAA. Also competed on Sweden's U-19 team.
The Blackhawks have announced they are changing the format of the Prospect Camp. Unlike last year, where there were approximately 70 attendees, including a number of players already on the Rockford IceHogs (AHL) roster, this year, the number is much closer to 40. The smaller camp will make it easier to see players' skills; get a better look at the prospects; and create a lot more focused, immediate feedback from coaches and trainers.
While the Rockford players have, for the most part, been left off the Prospect Camp roster - especially those like Nick Leddy, Ben Smith, and Marcus Kruger, who have already contributed at the NHL level - there will be a handful of players who saw limited time in Rockford at the end of last season. Among them:
Jimmy Hayes - RW - Fresh out of Boston College, this big (6'5") right winger (pictured above) had an impressive showing at the end of Rockford's season with smart, solid two-way play. Jimmy was drafted by Toronto in the 2008 draft (2nd round/60th) and acquired through trade; his younger brother Kevin (who also will be at Prospect Camp) was drafted by Chicago in 2010. He's more likely to be a top-2-line player in Rockford than to make the Blackhawks squad this season, but there's a lot to be excited about with JHayes' play.
Philippe Paradis - LW - Drafted by Carolina in 2009 (1st/27th) and traded to Chicago along with Chris DiDomenico as part of the Kris Versteeg trade. Paradis played for the QMJHL in the 2010-11 season, but was assigned to Rockford at the end of the year. He had a good showing, and will likely be on the IceHogs roster this fall.
Stephen Johns - D - 2010 Draft (2nd/60th) Johns is a big, strapping defenseman that had a very strong showing in last year's Prospect Camp. He was invited to USA Hockey's Evaluation Camp this spring; currently plays at the University of Notre Dame.
Dylan Olsen - D - 2009 Draft (1st/28th) Olsen played for the University of Minnesota-Duluth, and Team Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championship, where he won silver. He signed with Chicago on New Year's Eve and was on the Rockford roster for the end of the season. He's a big-bodied defenseman more in the mold of Brent Seabrook.
Cal Heeter - G - Heeter has been playing at Ohio State and is a free-agent invite to Prospect Camp. He was a nominee for the Hobey Baker this year, although not a finalist. He made a vast improvement in his play this season, tallying a 2.30 GAA and 0.923 sv % in 37 games (15-18-4). As one of the oldest goalies attending Prospect Camp, Heeter probably has one of the best shots of earning that backup goalie position at Rockford in the fall.
There is plenty of talent in the Blackhawks' pipeline for fans to get excited about. If you're in the Chicago area, the Prospect Camp is being held at Johnny's West, 2550 West Madison, Chicago, from Thursday, July 7th through Monday, July 11th, from 10am-1:15pm (full schedule here). Admission is free. (Free on-street parking.)