Second City Hockey’s 2019-20 preseason Blackhawks Top 25 Under 25 series ranks the organization’s top 25 players under the age of 25 by Oct. 1, 2019. The rankings are determined by a composite score from six SCH writers and more than 70 readers. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production against future projection to rank each player. The six SCH writers will make their ballots public after the series is completed.
The Coyotes drafted Entwistle in the third round (69th overall) back in 2017 draft, just one pick before the Blackhawks selected Russian winger Andrei Altybarmakyan.
Entwistle became a member of the Blackhawks organization July 12, 2018, when Chicago general manager Stan Bowman traded forwards Marian Hossa and Vinnie Hinostroza, defenseman Jordan Oesterle and a 2019 third-round pick to Arizona for forwards Marcus Kruger, Entwistle and Jordan Maletta, defenseman Andrew Campbell and a 2019 fifth-round pick.
Entwistle signed an entry-level deal with Chicago last October. He was still playing for the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs at the time, with whom he had won a league championship the previous season.
He had been named captain at the beginning of the season, in fact, and would go on to be named to Team Canada for the 2019 World Junior Championship. Although Canada failed to medal at the tournament, Entwistle impressed with three goals in five games.
When it became apparent the Bulldogs weren’t going to compete for another championship, they made the decision to reload for the future, sending Entwistle to the Guelph Storm for a handful of future draft picks.
In Guelph, Entwistle found a home on the team’s top line alongside Nick Suzuki and Isaac Ratcliffe, forming one of junior hockey’s best lines and upping his offensive production in the process.
Entwistle won his second straight OHL championship with the Storm after a rather crazy playoff run that included multiple multi-game series comebacks. To finish the season, Entwistle recorded five points (one goal, four assists) in four games at the Memorial Cup and continued his solid, two-way effort alongside Ratcliffe and Suzuki.
This past OHL season proved Entwistle is an effective forward at both ends of the ice, able to play wing and shift to center if need be.
He can cycle the puck with great diligence, he skates and shoots well for a player of his size (6-foot-4, 181 pounds) but isn’t afraid to get physical, and can be used in all situations.
His defensive responsibility makes him an asset on the penalty kill, but he’s skilled enough to be deployed on the power play as well.
Entwistle is also a solid presence off the ice, possessing great leadership qualities.
WATCH: @rayferrarotsn on Mackenzie Entwistle emerging as Canada's unlikely hero. #GoHAM #REPRESENT pic.twitter.com/7hFwK1eDJt— Hamilton Bulldogs (@BulldogsOHL) December 30, 2018
Great rush 2-on-1 by MacKenzie Entwistle and Isaac Ratcliffe, and Ratcliffe shoots to tie things up! @Storm_City #GUEvsROU #MemorialCup pic.twitter.com/rLovTKGR2J— Caitlin Berry (@caitlinsports) May 24, 2019
He won’t blow anyone away with his skill, but in today’s NHL, you need players like Entwistle in order to compete — he’s versatile on the ice, and can grind it out on the penalty kill or in a checking role while also having the ability to hang and produce alongside top line players.
He’s also good in the room, with media and fans, and he won’t put you in a tough spot cap-wise because his game is effective, not flashy.
As was written back in July, it might not happen for a year or two or even three, but it’s well within reason to project Entwistle as a valuable third-line forward of the future for the Blackhawks.
In the meantime, expect him to play his trade and continue to develop his game as a member of the Rockford IceHogs beginning in 2019-20.
Is MacKenzie Entwistle ranked too low, just right or too high?
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