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Blackhawks Top 25 Under 25: Blake Hillman leads Nos. 21-25 pack

Artur Kayumov, John Hayden, Brandon Hagel and Tim Söderlund also made the first five.

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St Louis Blues v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The first installment of the Blackhawks Top 25 Under 25 mid-season rankings has four forwards and one defenseman.

The forwards are Artur Kayumov, John Hayden, Brandon Hagel, Tim Söderlund and Blake Hillman is the lone defenseman in the Nos. 21-25.

All rankings are calculated on a composite score based on votes from Second City Hockey’s six writers.

No. 25 — Artur Kayumov

Position: Winger

Birth date: Feb. 14, 1998 (20)

Acquired via: 2016 second round

Current team: Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (KHL)

Current stats: 11 points (4 goals, 7 assists) in 35 games

Size: 5-foot-11, 176 pounds

Contract: Unsigned

Last T25U25 ranking: No. 15. Down 10 spots.

Kayumov is continuing to develop when given a bigger role. He’s already doubled his goal total from last season, and he’s distributing the puck more while playing with better linemates. He’s signed through the 2019-20 season with Lokomotiv, but his agent told The Athletic last July his client is open to coming to North America next season. If he does, it would give the Blackhawks an opportunity to finally have a hands-on role in his development since KHL contracts prevent players from attending NHL team development camps.

No. 24 — John Hayden

Position: Winger

Birth date: Feb. 14, 1995 (23)

Acquired via: 2013 third round

Current team: Blackhawks

Current stats: 3 points (2G, 1A) in 32GP

Size: 6’3”, 223 pounds

Contract: 2 years, $925K salary cap hit

Last T25U25 ranking: No. 11. Down 13 spots.

Hayden is the first NHL player to make the list, but he sees the biggest drop in the rankings by moving down 13 slots. He made the team as expected and has played a fourth-line role under Jeremy Colliton, who coached him in the AHL last season. Hayden’s biggest issue that’s holding him down in the bottom-six is his inability to keep up with the speed in today’s NHL.

No. 23 — Brandon Hagel

Position: Left winger

Birth date: Aug. 27, 1998 (20)

Acquired via: Free agency

Current team: Red Deer Rebels (WHL)

Current stats: 60 points (23G, 37A) in 38GP

Size: 6’1”, 174 pounds

Contract: 3 years, $925K

Last T25U25 ranking: None

Good Brandon alert!

After Buffalo decided not to offer Hagel a contract in May, he changed his training methods in the offseason and it paid off. He scored 12 goals and 28 points before November, which caught the Blackhawks’ eye and they signed him. General manger Stan Bowman also likes Hagel’s defensive game and how active he’s on the ice.

Hagel could join the IceHogs after his WHL season.

No. 22 — Tim Söderlund

Position: Winger

Birth date: Jan. 23, 1998 (20)

Acquired via: 2017 fourth round

Current team: Skellefteå AIK

Current stats: 5 points (3G, 2A) in 27GP

Size: 5’9”, 163 pounds

Contract: Unsigned

Last T25U25 ranking: No. 20. Down two spots.

Despite his luscious locks and smooth skating, Söderlund is back with Skellefteå AIK after mutually agreeing to part ways with SHL powerhouse Frölunda HC. When Frölunda acquired him it was believed he potentially could slot into the top line, but he played on the third and fourth line. Now he’s back with Skellefteå AIK, who is 11th in the 14-team SHL.

No. 21 — Blake Hillman

Position: Left-handed defenseman

Birth date: Jan. 26, 1996 (22)

Acquired via: 2016 sixth round

Current team: Rockford IceHogs (AHL)

Current stats: 1A in 27 GP

Size: 6’1”, 181 pounds

Contract: One year, $925K

Last T25U25 ranking: No. 18. Down three spots.

Unlike most of the defensemen in Chicago’s system, Hillman plays a more defensive-orientated game. He hasn’t recorded a point since his AHL debut in October. He’s played on the top line this season with Carl Dahlstrom, Gustav Forsling and now Lucas Carlsson.

Hillman did score a goal and posted a 40.5 Corsi-For percentage in his brief four-game NHL stint last season. It’s unlikely he’ll be called up to the NHL with the logjam the Blackhawks have and the stability he provides for Rockford’s blue line.