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Blackhawks prospect rankings 2016: An updated look after the World Junior Championship

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A fresh look at Chicago's top prospects entering the new year.

Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

(Note: Satchel Price is not an NHL scout, nor does he play one on television. He does watch and research about hockey a lot, however. After the victory at the World Junior Championship by Blackhawks prospect Joni Tuulola and Team Finland, here's an updated look at the team's top prospects not currently in the NHL. Don't take the specific rankings too seriously. Or do, we're here to have a good time.)

The pipeline. Ah, yes, the pipeline. The Blackhawks talk a lot about the ability to maintain a steady flow of talent through the organization no matter where they're drafting. It's been a central idea to the team's success over the past several years as GM Stan Bowman has navigated some challenging paths to continue acquiring top talent. Now the Hawks boast players like Teuvo Teravainen and Artemi Panarin despite not having a high draft pick in years.

The recent World Junior Championship gave fans another glimpse at some of the Hawks' top prospects, including former first-rounder Nick Schmaltz, who thrived for Team USA. With guys like Teravainen, Panarin and Trevor van Riemsdyk solidifying roles in the NHL, the next wave in the pipeline will need to step up to keep Chicago among the better teams in the league. Luckily, it appears Bowman and company are still doing that.

We did a Top 25 Under 25 list before the season, so this is essentially an update to that list, although we're simply looking at the top prospects not currently on the NHL roster right now. Here they are:

1. Marko Dano, right wing

Current team: Rockford (AHL)
Age: 21 | 5'11, 183 pounds | Acquired via 2015 trade (Saad)
2015-16 statistics: 2 points in 13 NHL games; 12 points in 18 AHL games

A centerpiece to the Brandon Saad trade along with veteran center Artem Anisimov, Dano failed to make an impression early on in Chicago. He still remains the team's top prospect by virtue of impressive offensive skill and an amazing 35-game stint with the Blue Jackets to close out last season. He's still finding his footing in the Hawks' system and may be a spring call-up like Teuvo last year. While the AHL numbers don't look great in Rockford, he's taking nearly three shots on goal per game, which is a good sign. The upside remains intact.

2. Nick Schmaltz, center

Current team: North Dakota (NCAA)
Age: 19 | 6'1, 181 pounds | Acquired via 2014 first-round pick
2015-16 statistics: 26 points in 20 NCAA games; 8 points in 7 WJC games

What a turnaround for Schmaltz the past few months. An underwhelming summer camp has finally given way to the former first-rounder's breakaway campaign. The Madison, Wisc., native has nearly doubled his production as a sophomore at the University of North Dakota -- becoming one of the NCAA's top scorers in the process -- and took on a starring role during Team USA's run to the bronze medal, its first in years, in the World Junior Championship. The playmaker turned a lot of heads in Finland and seems likely to sign his entry-level deal with the team once his college season concludes.

3. Ville Pokka, defenseman

Current team: Rockford (AHL)
Age: 21 | 6'0, 214 pounds | Acquired via 2014 trade (Leddy)
2015-16 statistics: 20 points in 34 AHL games

Pokka is an intelligent player who knows how to move the puck and should be a strong fit for the Hawks' system, which is built on the defensemen quickly getting the puck up to the forwards in transition. He's still working on his consistency in Rockford, where he still lays the occasional egg, and he's not the fastest skater or strongest shooter, but he's the IceHogs' top-scoring defenseman by far. Chicago's current right-shooting defensemen are Seabrook, TVR and Rozsival. Pokka should crack into that group at some point, even if it's next season.

4. Gustav Forsling, defenseman

Current team: Linköpings HC (SHL)
Age: 19 | 6'0, 183 pounds | Acquired via 2015 trade (Clendening)
2015-16 statistics: 12 points in 27 SHL games; 3 points in 6 WJC games

The return for Adam Clendening is looking awfully good at this point in Forsling, a 19-year-old offensive defenseman who's having a very strong year in Sweden. The former Canucks prospect has settled in as one of the top scorers at Linköpings HC and played on the top defensive line for Sweden as the team made its run to the bronze medal game in the World Junior Championship. Forsling slowed down later on in the tournament but still made an impression. You know your GM made a good trade when the opposing team's fans are complaining about it on Twitter. There has been a lot of "How did Vancouver let this guy go???" happening recently.

5. Ryan Hartman, right wing

Current team: Rockford (AHL)
Age: 21 | 6'0, 183 pounds | Acquired via 2013 first-round pick
2015-16 statistics: 1 point in 3 NHL games; 18 points in 29 AHL games

Hartman's been on the cusp of getting an extended shot for over a year now. He seems like the heir to Andrew Shaw's role on the roster, not unlike how fellow first-rounder Phillip Danault seems to be coming into his own as the prospective replacement for Marcus Kruger. Hartman hasn't translated much of his offensive game in his brief NHL stints, looking more content just to make some hits and move the puck, but he remains an NHL-ready option who could become a steady bottom-six winger.

6. Vincent Hinostroza, center

Current team: Rockford (AHL)
Age: 21 | 5'9, 180 pounds | Acquired via 2012 sixth-round pick
2015-16 statistics: 0 points in 4 NHL games; 15 points in 28 AHL games

One of several prospects who got a brief cup of coffee earlier in the season, Hinostroza is an undersized playmaking center who shows flashes of being an exciting creator. The problem is that he's small, which was apparent as he failed to leave an impression during his first stint with the Hawks. He needs to be able to play in the neutral zone effectively in order to take advantage of his ability to find passing angles and create chances. That's something he's trying to work out right now in Rockford, although the center position is becoming increasingly crowded in Chicago.

7. John Hayden, center

Current team: Yale (NCAA)
Age: 20 | 6'3, 210 pounds | Acquired via 2013 third-round pick
2015-16 statistics: 8 points in 12 NCAA games

Hayden is one of the Blackhawks' most physically gifted prospects. The former third-rounder brings an impressive frame and skating ability along with developing skills in finishing plays. He earned ECAC Player of the Week honors with the Bulldogs in mid-December after a two-goal game against a talented Boston University team. The big center also served as an alternate captain for Team USA at last year's World Junior Championship, in which he recorded one goal in five games as the team settled for a fifth-place finish. While Hayden is still tapping into his potential, there are only a select few young players in the organization with more upside than him.

8. Tyler Motte, left wing

Current team: Michigan (NCAA)
Age: 21 | 5'9, 192 pounds | Acquired via 2013 fourth-round pick
2015-16 statistics: 17 points in 17 NCAA games

One of the relatively unheralded Hawks prospects, Motte's quietly raised his game since being drafted in the fourth round by the team two-plus years ago. Now a star on the University of Michigan's top line as a junior, Motte is showing that there's enough oomph to make his two-way game intriguing at the NHL level. Chicago was likely attracted to Motte initially because of his willingness to play that active style on both ends of the ice. Now that he's become a key scorer for the Wolverines at the college level, there's growing hope that he'll make good on his potential and become a solid, if undersized, winger.

9. Radovan Bondra, right wing

Current team: Vancouver Giants (WHL)
Age: 18 | 6'5, 218 pounds | Acquired via 2015 fifth-round pick
2015-16 statistics: 16 points in 30 WHL games; 1 point in 5 WJC games

Bondra is a tough player to peg. He's massive, producing decent numbers in the WHL at age 18 and just played a key role for Slovakia at the World Junior Championship. He also fell to the fifth round in the 2015 draft and only scored once at the WJC as his team was eliminated in the quarterfinals. So it's easy to temper expectations even while seeing a player who's already physically imposing at the age when most Americans graduate high school. Bondra will definitely require some patience, but he's one of the team's most intriguing wild cards.

10. Fredrik Olofsson, left wing

Current team: Nebraska-Omaha (NCAA)
Age: 19 | 6'2, 198 pounds | Acquired via 2014 fourth-round pick
2015-16 statistics: 12 points in 16 NCAA games

Olofsson was one of the last cuts to Sweden's roster for the World Junior Championship, where the team got crushed by the Americans, 8-3, in the bronze medal game. He's talented skater on the wing who's also grown into a solid 6'2, 198-pound frame that already makes him look like an NHL player. Now Olofsson just needs to keep developing his feel for the game and finishing ability in order to move up this list and eventually into an opportunity in Chicago. He's already producing as a freshman at the University of Nebraska-Omaha and while he didn't crack Team Sweden for the WJC, it's still looking like the Hawks did well to nab Olofsson in the fourth round.

ONE MORE NOTE: Mark McNeill, center/mystery man

Current team: Rockford (AHL)
Age: 22 | 6'2, 214 pounds | Acquired via 2011 first-round pick
2015-16 statistics: 12 points in 22 games

It seems like we're getting close to the tipping point with McNeill. Either the Hawks need to see what they have in the former first-round pick soon, or they're apparently accepting that there's nothing here. McNeill has long been considered one of the team's top prospects, but it feels telling that Dano, Hartman, Hinostroza, Kyle Baun, Tanner Kero, Phillip Danault and Dennis Rasmussen all got chances before him this season. Maybe the team has simply decided McNeill doesn't fit the system ... we've seen it happen before. But at this point, the Hawks might as well consider trading McNeill while he still retains some semblance of value -- is there any left? -- if the team isn't interested. McNeill seems to have a combination of size and finishing ability that would make him worthy of a shot somewhere, even if it's not in this organization.

Honorable mention (in alphabetical order): Kyle Baun, Liam Coughlin, Carl Dahlstrom, John Dahlstrom, Dennis Gilbert, Ryan Haggerty, Matt Iacopelli, Graham Knott, Ivan Nalimov, Jake Massie, Robin Norell, Robin Press, Roy Radke, Garret Ross, Ryan Shea, Luc Snuggerud, Viktor Svedberg, Joni Tuulola, Nolan Valleau