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Blackhawks Top 25 Under 25: Nicolas Beaudin, Ian Mitchell lead Nos. 6-10

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The defensemen duo were unanimous selections outside the top five.

2019 NCAA Division I Men’s Hockey Championships - Semifinals Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images

The third installment of Second City Hockey’s Top 25 Under 25 series focuses on Nos. 6-10, which includes three forwards and two defensemen that were unanimous selections at their ranking.

The rankings are calculated on a composite score based on votes from four Second City Hockey writers.

No. 10 — Evan Barratt

Position: Center
Birth date: Feb. 18, 1999 (20)
Acquired via: 2017 NHL draft — third round (No. 90)
Team: Penn State (NCAA)
Stats: 28 points (nine goals, 19 assists) in 26 games
Size: 5-foot-11, 190 pounds
Contract: Unsigned
Rankings: 9 (Shepard); 11 (Dave, Matt)
Last T25U25 ranking: 25. Up 15 spots. (we know he was undervalued last time)

Barratt, who underwent hip surgery last spring, is again one of the Big Ten’s top offensive players on a high-octane team with Penn State. He has 28 points in 26 games compared to 43 points in 32 games during his sophomore season. His time rehabbing and conditioning helped improved his speed and gave him time to work on his first few steps with the puck, he recently told The Chicago Sun-Times.

Barratt is expected to sign with the Blackhawks once No. 8 Penn State’s season ends in the spring. The Nittany Lions are projected to be a NCAA tournament team, which starts with the regional round March 27. The Rockford IceHogs have five games after the regional round.

No. 9 — Alex Nylander

Position: LW/RW
Birth date: March 2, 1998 (21)
Acquired via: Trade with Buffalo in 2019
Team: Blackhawks
Stats: 17 points (six goals, 11 assists) in 47 games
Size: 6’1”, 192 pounds
Contract: 2 years, $863,333
Rankings: 8 (Brandon, Dave, Matt); 16 (Shepard)
Last T25U25 ranking: 10. Up 1 spot.

In his first full NHL season, Nylander has shown why the Blackhawks traded for him and other times he’s left people scratching their heads at his inconsistent play. He’s been up and down the lineup from playing with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, to being on the fourth line and even a healthy scratch. Nylander now looks to be a fixture in a bottom-six role.

When Nylander is playing his best, his speed, ability to read plays and takeaway the puck from the opposition is evident.

“I think it’s a mixed performance,” Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said of Nylander on Jan. 7. “I thought he’s had some great games this year and I think with younger players, we’ve seen it with some of our other young guys is trying to get it consistently out of them. So I think Alex had flashes where he was really effective and I think sometimes he needs to just gain more reliability both ways but still encouraged by what he’s shown and I think if we can get his best game can really impact us in a positive way. So if we can bring that out on a regular basis that will help the team.”

No. 8 — Philipp Kurashev

Position: C/RW
Birth date: Oct. 12, 1999 (20)
Acquired via: 2018 draft — fourth round (No. 120)
Team: Rockford IceHogs (AHL)
Stats: 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) in 29 games
Size: 6’0”, 190 pounds
Contract: 3 years, $842,500
Rankings: 8 (Shepard); 12 (Brandon)
Last T25U25 ranking: 7. Down 1 spot.

After three QMJHL seasons, Kurashev has made a smooth transition to the AHL. He had two assists in his first three games then cooled down a bit before things really started to click at the end of November and into mid-December when he tallied six points (two goals, six assists). Kurashev, however, has been out for a month with what is being called an upper-body injury. At the time of his injury, he was tied with Brandon Hagel for the team lead in scoring among rookies.

No. 7 — Nicolas Beaudin

Position: LHD
Birth date: Oct. 7, 1999 (20)
Acquired via: 2018 draft — first round (No. 27)
Team: Rockford IceHogs (AHL)
Stats: 12 points (two goals, 10 assists) in 41 games
Size: 5’10”, 178 pounds
Contract: 3 years, $894,167
Rankings: 7 (unanimous)
Last T25U25 ranking: 6. Down 1 spot.

Like Kurashev, Beaudin is in his first pro season after playing in the QMJHL and his coming into his own as he learns how to play against men. He knows he’s not the biggest guy on the ice and will have to add some muscle to his frame like many of his teammates, but in the mean time he’s utilizing his hockey sense and maintaining good positioning to allow him to compete against bigger players. Once he started to be more comfortable defending in the AHL, the natural offensive side of his game came to life as he played with more confidence and showed he can be a complete player.

Beaudin needs to work on his pace and accelerating in his first few strides, but his vision and passing ability is already near NHL-caliber. He could use another AHL season to physically develop and grow more confident in his play.

No. 6 — Ian Mitchell

Position: RHD
Birth date: Jan. 18, 1999 (21)
Acquired via: 2017 draft — second round (No. 57)
Team: Denver (NCAA)
Stats: 21 points (six goals, 15 assists) in 26 games
Size: 5’11”, 179 pounds
Contract: Unsigned
Rankings: 6 (unanimous)
Last T25U25 ranking: 5. Down 1 spot.

Mitchell plans to sign with the Blackhawks once his junior season with No. 4 Denver ends, which like Barratt could come in the regional round of the NCAA tournament or at the Frozen Four in Detroit (April 9 and 11). Mitchell is focused on avenging DU’s semifinal overtime loss last season and has a goal of the winning the Hobey Baker Award as the country’s best player.

Mitchell started the season with 11 points (four goals, seven assists) on a seven-game point streak before he cooled off with only two assists in his next 11 games. After winning the Spengler Cup with Canada, he’s put up nine points (three goals, six assists) in eight games with the Pioneers. Defensively, he’s improved his gap control and plays with a more active stick than his sophomore season.

Like Barratt, he could join the IceHogs in the spring, but it won’t be too surprising to see the Blackhawks give him shot at the NHL level either.