Next up on our Top 25 Under 25 list is big-bodied defenseman Carl Dahlstrom. A former second-round pick, Dahlstrom has taken a while to develop but signed an entry-level contract with the Blackhawks earlier this year. He's coming off a strong season in the SHL, which impressed Chicago enough to ink him to a deal, and has some of the strongest physical tools of any prospect in the system.
Birth date: Jan. 28, 1995
Acquired via: Second round (No. 51 overall) in 2013 NHL Entry Draft
Most recent stop: Linköpings HC (SHL)
Size: 6'4, 227 pounds
Contract: ELC, signed through 2018-19, $750,833 AAV
The Hawks drafted Dahlstrom in the second round for reasons that remain obvious today. He's a huge, mobile defenseman who skates very well for a player of his size. The Swede is easily one of the biggest defensemen prospects in the system, which makes him an interesting change of pace from smaller, more speed-oriented players like Robin Norell and Luc Snuggerud.
Dahlstrom already often looks like an NHL player given his frame and the way he moves around the ice, so the big question now is whether some time in the AHL will help him acclimate to the North American game and the Blackhawks' system. Last season as a member of the SHL's Linköpings HC, he recorded eight points in 50 games, a slight step up from six points in 55 games the year before.
One thing that's interesting to note is that even the Hawks seem curious about where Dahlstrom goes from here. He's easily one of the most intriguing prospects in the system because that base of size and mobility. Here's what assistant GM Norm Maciver told The Athletic's Scott Powers in June:
"He’s a big kid who skates well. It’s just a matter of finding his niche over here. What type of player is he going to be? Is he going to be a defensive defenseman? Is he going to be more of a two-way kind of guy? He can really skate for someone that size. We like his mobility as well as his skating. He’s just going to have to continue to refine all parts of his game."
So it seems like the Blackhawks, just like the rest of us, are curious to see how Dahlstrom's adjustment in Rockford goes and where that takes his development from here. He turns 22 years old in January, so he's not exactly the youngest prospect, but if he can take another significant step forward like he did in the SHL last season, then the Hawks might have another big NHL-ready defenseman soon.
What's next in 2016-17
Dahlstrom will compete with the other defensemen in training camp, but he's almost assuredly going to be heading to Rockford for next season. He made a brief appearance with the IceHogs at the end of last season, recording one assist in eight games, and will look to impress with a longer stint in 2016-17. If he can keep developing, Dahlstrom would then stand a much better chance of finally cracking the NHL roster the following season.
Second City Hockey's Top 25 Under 25 rankings
No. 17: Carl Dahlstrom
No. 18: Dennis Gilbert
No. 19: Luc Snuggerud
No. 20: Robin Norell
No. 21: Robin Press
No. 22: Dylan Sikura
No. 23: Graham Knott
No. 24: Anthony Louis
No. 25: Roy Radke
Honorable mentions: Radovan Bondra, Joni Tuulola, Mathias From, John Dahlstrom, Lucas Carlsson