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Blackhawks Top 25 Under 25: Michal Teply enters Nos. 16-20 group

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Dennis Gilbert, Kevin Lankinen, Lucas Carlsson and Niklas Nordgren round out the rest of the pack.

Winnipeg Ice v Everett Silvertips Photo by Christopher Mast/Getty Images

With the second installment of Second City Hockey’s Top 25 Under 25 series, we move on to the Nos. 16-20 group, which includes one of Chicago’s fourth-round picks from the 2019 NHL draft, Michal Teply.

No. 20 — Niklas Nordgren

Position: RW
Birth date: May 4, 2000 (Age 19)
Acquired via: 2018 NHL draft - third round (No. 74 overall)
Teams: HIFK/HIFK U20 (Liiga)
Stats: 1 assist in 8 games for HIFK; 15 points (3 goals, 12 assists) in 11 games for HIFK U20
Size: 5-foot-9, 170 pounds
Contract: Unsigned
Rankings: 18 (Matt); 23 (Brandon, Dave, Shepard)
Last T25U25 ranking: No. 27 in honorable mentions
Dobber Prospects’ NHL point projection model:

Nordgren’s PNHLe graph
Dobber Prospects

Nordgren’s career has been hampered by multiple injuries and he’s finally gotten healthy enough to play with HIFK/HIFK U20 in Finland’s Liiga. After getting settled in with HIFK, Nordgren’s offensive potential that had him ranked by Corey Pronman as the 30th best prospect at the 2018 NHL draft has been on the uptick. He just collected five points for the U20 HIFK team on Jan. 25 and has impressed his coaches with his ability to slow the game down when he’s controlling the puck and consistently be in the right spot on the ice without the puck.

Hopefully, Nordgren can stay healthy, because that’s his only impediment to becoming a future top 9 winger at the NHL level.

No. 19 — Kevin Lankinen

Position: Goalie
Birth date: Apr. 28, 1995 (Age 24)
Acquired via: Free agency
Team: Rockford IceHogs (AHL)
Stats: 7-10-2, .904 save-percentage, 3.19 goals against average
Size: 6-foot-2, 190 pounds
Contract: 1 year, $925,000 (RFA)
Rankings: 14 (Shepard); Unranked (Matt)
Last T25U25 ranking: 24. Up 5 spots

Although Lankinen has had bit of an up and down season for Rockford, he was the lone representative from the IceHogs at the AHL All-Star game.

The Finnish netminder had a stellar start to the season with seven wins in 11 starts and a .924 save percentage, including a Rockford AHL-record 55-save performance, but the past month has been rough for Lankinen. He’s lost eight straight appearances and only has had two starts with a save percentage above .900. With two other goalies in Rockford in Collin Delia and Matt Tomkins, Lankinen will look to get back on track with goalie development coach Peter Aubry just as Delia did when he went through a rough patch earlier in the season.

A goalie’s developmental path has a lot of twists and turns. However, with Lankinen’s gold medal performance at the 2019 World Championship where he recorded a .942 save percentage and two shutouts and a solid two months to start the 2019-20 AHL season, Lankinen’s stock is on the rise.

No. 18 — Dennis Gilbert

Position: Left-handed defenseman
Birth date: Oct. 30, 1996 (Age 23)
Acquired via: 2015 NHL draft - third round (No. 91 overall)
Current team: Rockford IceHogs
Stats: Three points, 42.6 Corsi-For in 20 NHL games; Two assists in 15 games in AHL
Size: 6-foot-3, 225 pounds
Contract: 2 years, $925,000 (RFA)
Rankings: 17 (Brandon); 20 (Dave)
Last T25U25 ranking: 18. No change.

Gilbert isn’t afraid to step up and take the body on a puck carrier, he’s willing to block shots or protect a teammate after a cheap shot and he has a great work ethic and attitude.

“For me, I think I’m a good skater but I want to be a great skater,” Gilbert said at the start of the season. “I think I’m a good defender, but I want to be a great defender. To be great at (NHL) level, you have to dominate at (AHL) level so I’m going to be working really hard in practice and games to make sure I’m pushing myself to get better whether that’s my gap control, using my feet to get up ice and killing plays, being good offensively, taking a leadership role down here. All those things have kinda helped me get better every day.”

The Norte Dame alum had a 20-game stint with the Blackhawks that drew praise from his teammates. Gilbert’s defensive skillset still needs to be fine-tuned and once it does, the combination of his physicality, work ethic and selflessness would be a great addition to the third defensive pairing and penalty kill.

No. 17 — Michal Teply

Position: LW/RW
Birth date: May 27, 2001 (Age 18)
Acquired via: 2019 NHL draft - fourth round (No. 105 overall)
Current team: Winnipeg Ice (WHL)
Stats: 41 points (18 goals, 23 assists) in 36 games
Size: 6-foot-3, 192 pounds
Contract: Unsigned
Rankings: 15 (Shepard); 18 (Brandon, Dave)
Last T25U25 ranking: Unranked

Teply has been an offensive weapon for Winnipeg in his first season in North America. He has a wicked right-handed release, especially from the top of the left face-off circle on the power play, and has plenty of time for his body to develop into his big frame.

Scouts have compared his skillset to Patrik Laine, but Teply clearly has lots of work to reach that level. However, Teply’s current production of 1.14 points-per-game is encouraging for a fourth-round pick. He also led the Czech Republic’s team at World Juniors in scoring with five points — all assists — in as many games and was named one of the team’s top three players in the tournament.

No. 16 — Lucas Carlsson

Position: Left-handed defenseman
Birth date: Jul. 5, 1997 (Age 22)
Acquired via: 2016 NHL draft - fourth round (No. 110 overall)
Team: Rockford IceHogs (AHL)
Stats: 17 points (four goals, 13 assists) in 38 games, +2
Size: 6-foot, 190 pounds
Contract: 2 years, $792,000 (RFA)
Rankings: 15 (Brandon, Matt); 17 (Shepard)
Last T25U25 ranking: 17. Up one spot.
Dobber Prospects’ NHL point projection model:

Carlsson’s PNHLe graph
Dobber Prospects

After putting up 33 points in his first AHL season, Carlsson continues to be Rockford’s main offensive threat from the blue line with Adam Boqvist locked into Chicago’s NHL lineup. Carlsson is on pace for 34 points this season and has seen an increase in his production with the departure of Philip Holm.

Carlsson is also one of the team’s better all-around defensemen. He maintains good positioning, closes in on skaters quickly, handles the puck well and displays great vision when finding seams for passes.

Past history suggests fourth rounders rarely make an impact at the NHL level, but he’s looking like another late round gem for general manager Stan Bowman and his European scouting department.

Carlsson’s consistent production should at least give him a chance to play with the Blackhawks before his contract expires in 2021 to see if he can handle defensive responsibilities at the NHL level and whether that offensively gifted skillset continues to shine.