Blake Hillman is the third player on this list to already have some NHL experience with Chicago Blackhawks. Hillman scored one goal and posted a 40.5 Corsi-For percentage in his brief four-game stint down the stretch. The left-handed defenseman showed he has a heavy shot and the ability to compete at the NHL level.
Birth date: Jan. 26, 1996 (age 22)
Acquired via: Sixth round in 2016 NHL draft
Most recent stop: Blackhawks — NHL
Size: 6’1, 181 pounds
Contract: One year, $925,00 cap hit (entry-level deal)
Last year’s ranking: Unranked
Hillman decided to turn pro and leave DU after the Pioneers bid to repeat as national champions ended in the regional finals against Ohio State. During his junior season at DU, Hillman played on the Pioneers’ top line with fellow Blackhawks prospect Ian Mitchell. Hillman, the more defensive-oriented defenseman, recorded 12 points (three goals, nine assists) while Mitchell tallied 30 points (two goals, 28 assists).
Hillman scored his first career NHL goal against against the St. Louis Blues on April 4 at Scottrade Center. He blasted home a one-timer off a feed from Nick Schmaltz while Chicago was shorthanded.
On his goal, Blake Hillman was planning to go for a line change. But when he saw Schmaltz pull up he jumped into the play. Q was a big fan of that decision-making, and ability to read the situation.— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) April 5, 2018
Blake Hillman: 3rd @NHLBlackhawks player over the last 30 seasons whose 1st career NHL goal was a shorthanded one- joins Jake Dowell (Nov 22, 2007) & Mike Hudson (Oct 12, 1988)— StatsCentre (@StatsCentre) April 5, 2018
Blake Hillman, who wears No. 55, scores his first NHL career goal on @portilloshotdog’s 55th birthday.— Stosh City Hockey (@2ndCityHockey) April 5, 2018
Hillman, who posted a 53.1 defensive zone start percentage with the Hawks, is regarded as one of the better defensive prospects in a system packed with promising talent on the blueline. He’s not going to light the lamp every night, but he’s earned praise from Hawks management and scouts alike in the way he’s able to win one-on-one battles.
What’s next in 2018-19?
Despite seeing time with Chicago at the end of the season, Hillman isn’t projected to make the team out of training camp with the addition of free agent Brandon Manning. Hillman will more likely than not to start the season in the AHL with the Rockford IceHogs in order to develop his game to an NHL-caliber level.