The Chicago Blackhawks released their training camp roster on Thursday, and there's one notable name on it. Alexandre Fortin, the 19-year-old forward who turned heads in the Hawks' prospect camp in July, has been invited to Chicago to try to earn a contract later this month.
Most of the names on the roster for training camp, which is set to begin Sept. 23, are familiar faces, top prospects and AHL fodder from the organization. Fortin, however, is an undrafted free agent who is still trying to convince the Blackhawks he's worthy of a contract offer.
It's clear that Fortin has made some impression given his training camp invitation. The Hawks wouldn't waste time evaluating him in camp if they didn't view him as a potential prospect, and for a team that's become somewhat top-heavy in terms of young talent, it wouldn't hurt to take a flier on a guy like Fortin.
The forward, who spent the past two seasons playing for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in the QMJHL, has already told reporters that he wants to sign with the Hawks. He's eligible to do so, too, despite being just 19 years old. That's because of a loophole in the collective bargaining agreement that allows undrafted players who meet certain criteria to sign as free agents.
Because Fortin played junior hockey last year, was under age 20 at the time of the 2016 NHL Draft and didn't get selected, he's eligible to sign a contract this fall. However, the deadline for that is unclear based on the present situation. If he signed a tryout contract, the deadline is pushed back to Oct. 12 (the start of the NHL season), but if he did not sign a tryout contact, the deadline is Sept. 22 (the start of the QMJHL season). If Fortin doesn't receive a contract offer from the Hawks, he'll be forced to re-enter the 2017 NHL Draft. One would assume a tryout contract is involved in training camp participation, but that has not been confirmed.
Don't get too excited about Fortin, who at this point remains little more than a curiosity as a prospect, but considering that he's already gotten to this point, it wouldn't be shocking if he earned a contract offer from the Blackhawks in a few weeks.