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2019 Blackhawks Top 25 Under 25: Artur Kayumov leads honorable mentions

Niklas Nordgren, John Quenneville, Reese Johnson and Alexandre Fortin round out the group.

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Kontinental Hockey League: CSKA Moscow vs Lokomotiv Yaroslavl Photo by Mikhail Japaridze\TASS via Getty Images

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.

SCH drops the puck on the series by looking at five players — all forwards — who received top-25 votes, but the score wasn’t enough to earn a top-25 ranking. Think of it like the “others receiving votes” section in a weekly college football or basketball poll. These are the first five on the outside looking in at the top 25.

No. 30 — Alexandre Fortin

Position: Left wing

Birth date: Feb. 25, 1997 (22)

Size: 6-foot-1, 187 pounds

Acquired via: Free agency (undrafted)

2018-19 season stats: 6 points (3 goals, 3 assists) in 13:05 average ice time in 24 NHL games; 12 points (6G, 6A) in 47 AHL games

2018-19 season advanced stats: 51.8 Corsi-For, 45.2 offensive-zone starts, 54.8 defensive-zone starts, 34.05 scoring chances for per 60, 7 goals for while on ice, 14 goals against on ice

2019-20 team: Rockford IceHogs (AHL)

Contract: 1 year, $706,666; waiver exempt

Last T25U25 ranking: Unranked

SCH highest ranking: No. 21; Shalyn

SCH lowest ranking: Unranked; Brandon, Dave, Matt

Fortin was a surprising call up early on last season and spent two months with the Blackhawks. The biggest takeaways from his NHL time was his speed and ability to play up with skilled players.

Once he was re-assigned to the AHL, he didn’t produce like expected with only 12 points. The upside for Fortin is for the first time in three seasons he wasn’t sidelined with an injury. In 2016-17 it was a sports hernia and the next season it was a groin injury that saw him miss time.

He could get another NHL shot, but it’ll be tougher for him to stay up compared to last season given the influx of players this offseason. He’ll be a restricted free agent after the 2019-20 campaign.

No. 29 — Reese Johnson

Position: Right-handed center

Birth date: July 10, 1998 (21)

Size: 6-1, 192 pounds

Acquired via: Free agency (undrafted)

2018-19 season stats: 53P (27G, 26A), 65.3 FO% in 67GP in WHL; 4A in 6GP in AHL

2019 WHL playoff stats: 2P (1G, 1A), 61.6 FO% in 4GP

2019-20 team: IceHogs (AHL)

Contract: 3 years, $880,833; waiver exempt

Last T25U25 ranking: N/A

SCH highest ranking: No. 22; Dave, Shepard

SCH lowest ranking: Unranked; Brad, Shalyn

Much like Fortin, Johnson was happy to be healthy and able to play a full season. Johnson missed half of the 2015-16 season with a tore his left labrum then all of the next campaign with the same injury on his other shoulder aside from skating in three playoff games. He had 39 points in 72 games the following season and picked up his play with 45 points (22 goals, 23 assists) in 62 games prior to the Blackhawks signing him as an undrafted free agent in March.

His biggest skillset is at the faceoff dot, winning 65 percent of his draws which put him among the best in the WHL. He joined the IceHogs on an amateur tryout contract after Red Deer was eliminated from the playoffs, so he didn’t burn a year on his entry-level contract. He showed some offensive upside and was able to win draws in the AHL, but faceoff stats are not publicly available.

Johnson could be called up to the NHL this season in a fourth-line center role if the Blackhawks are struggling with winning faceoffs and need help on the penalty kill.

No. 28 — John Quenneville

Position: Left wing/center

Birth date: April 16, 1996 (23)

Size: 6-1, 194 pounds

Acquired via: Trade for John Hayden

2018-19 season stats: 1G in 11:19 ATOI in 19GP in NHL; 39P (18G, 21A) in 37GP in AHL

2018-19 season advanced stats: 46.2 CF%, 6 oiGF, 6 oiGA, 48.3 oZS%, 51.7 dZS%

2019-20 team: Blackhawks (NHL) or IceHogs (AHL)

Contract: 2 years, $750K; not waiver exempt

Last T25U25 ranking: No. 12 (All About The Jersey); down 16 spots

SCH highest ranking: No. 21; Brad

SCH lowest ranking: Unranked; everyone else

Quenneville is yet another former first-rounder pickup by Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman this offseason. Quenneville is coming off a career-high season offensively in the AHL and stayed up in the NHL for 19 games. In the AHL, he’s shown he can be responsible in his own zone and contribute offensively.

Devils assistant general manager Tom Fitzgerald was critical of Quenneville’s cardio and dedication prior to last season, telling The Athletic the former Brandon Wheat Kings star “needs to get in shape.” Quenneville is no longer waiver exempt, so if he doesn’t make the Blackhawks or struggles and is placed on waivers he could be scooped by another team. If not he’ll play for the IceHogs in the AHL.

No. 27 — Niklas Nordgren

Position: Right wing

Birth date: May 4, 2000 (19)

Size: 5-9, 170 pounds

Acquired via: 2018 draft third round (74th overall)

2018-19 season stats: 19P (6G, 13A) in 13 GP in Jr. A SM-Liiga; 7P (4G, 3A) in 15GP in Liiga

2019-20 team: HIFK — Liiga (Finland)

Contract: Unsigned

Last T25U25 ranking: No. 18; down nine spots

SCH highest ranking: No. 18; Shepard

SCH lowest ranking: Unranked; Brad, Matt, Shalyn

Nordgren was negatively affected by injuries, missing some time throughout the season that caused him to split time between the under-20 league and Liiga. He also did not participate in on-ice drills during prospect camp and is not in the Pitsiturnaus, which is a tournament to start Liiga’s preseason this week.

If he can stay healthy, improve his skating and can be a full-time Liiga player next season, he’ll rise in these rankings. He could be a candidate to sign and play in the AHL for the 2020-21 season. It’s more likely he’ll play two more Liiga seasons before coming over to North America.

No. 26 — Artur Kayumov

Position: Left wing

Birth date: Feb. 14, 1998 (21)

Size: 5-11, 176 pounds

Acquired via: 2016 second round (50th overall)

2018-19 season stats: 13P (5G, 8A) in 46GP in KHL

2019 playoff stats: 6P (2G, 4A) in 11GP in KHL; 7P (2G, 5A) in 11GP in MHL

2019-20 team: Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (KHL)

Contract: Unsigned

Last T25U25 ranking: No. 25, down one spot

SCH highest ranking: No. 21; Shepard

SCH lowest ranking: Unranked; Brad

During the Blackhawks prospect camp, Bowman singled out Kayumov as one of the team’s Russian prospects who “took a big step this year” and “really showed that he could be a player (in the KHL).” Kayumov tied for 12th in points among KHL players 21 years old and younger. He joined Lokomotiv’s MHL junior team in the playoffs and helped them win the Kharlamov Cup.

Here are some KHL highlights:

Here’s his goal from Game 6 of the MHL Final:

Kayumov will have a new coach next season with Craig MacTavish, who signed a two-year contract with Lokomotiv and left his post as the senior vice president of hockey operations for the Oilers. MacTavish brings NHL coaching experience having coached Edmonton from 2000-09 with three playoff appearances.

Kayumov has one year left on his KHL contract before he looks to come over to North America for the 2020-21 season, according to his agent.