Chicago Blackhawks goaltender prospect Wouter Peeters agreed to an amateur tryout contract with the Rockford IceHogs on Tuesday. The move is listed on the AHL’s official list of transactions, and adds Peeters to the IceHogs’ roster for the remainder of the 2016-17 season.
Peeters, 18, was drafted by the Blackhawks in the third round (No. 83 overall) in the 2016 NHL Draft. A massive young netminder measuring in at 6’4 and 201 pounds as a teenager, he’s a long-term project who could potentially develop into Chicago’s goalie of the future.
With three goalies already in Rockford, Scott Powers of The Athletic reports that Peeters will not appear in any AHL games. Instead, the goalie is “expected to only train with the IceHogs and Blackhawks goalie development coach Peter Aubry.” Presumably this also gives team officials an extended, up-close look at arguably their best goalie prospect.
Peeters spent the 2016-17 season playing for Jokerit’s U-20 team in Finland, which still has him under contract for another year. That means Peeters will likely return to that team for the 2017-18 season before considering making the North American leap, but at least the Hawks have a chance to scout him further now.
In 15 games with Jokerit U-20 this season, Peeters posted .899 save percentage. He’s still extremely young and has the classic, projectable frame of a modern NHL goalie, so his development will be closely watched.
The Blackhawks don’t really have another good goalie prospect in the system unless you’re still holding out hope for Ivan Nalimov, who continued his up-and-down KHL career with Admiral Vladivostok and Sibir Novosibirsk this season. Nalimov, 22, has good athleticism and size, but hasn’t translated that into effective performance yet. Hopefully Peeters will be further along by the time he’s 22 years old.