Second City Hockey’s 2020-21 preseason Blackhawks Top 25 Under 25 series ranks the organization’s top 25 players under the age of 25 by Oct. 1, 2020. The rankings are determined by a composite score from three SCH writers and community member, L_B_R. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production against future projection to rank each player. All four ballots will be released after the series is completed.
John Quenneville’s first season with the Blackhawks didn’t go quite as planned.
Quenneville, who was selected No. 30 overall by the Devils in the 2014 NHL Draft, missed part of training camp with a hip injury then in the fourth game of the AHL season he sustained a right shoulder injury that caused him to miss nine games and almost a month of action. He cemented himself in Rockford’s top-six and scored seven goals and 12 points in 15 games before he was called up and played nine games without a point for Chicago.
Quenneville certainly had his chances during his brief stint in December and early January, playing on the top line with Dominik Kubalik and Jonathan Toews (more than 70 minutes at even strength). When he returned to the AHL, Quenneville had five goals, including a four-game goal streak, and nine points in 17 games before he was sidelined with a neck strain for five games and then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Like all players, Quenneville used the NHL’s pause to recover from injuries and work on his skills. He was part of the Blackhawks’ return-to-play summer camp, and even played in two postseason games (6:04 time on ice in Game 2 against Edmonton in a Stanley Cup Qualifier series and 13:49 TOI in Game 5 against Vegas in the first round). Quenneville returned to the top line with Kubalik and Toews, but did not score.
The Blackhawks used Quenneville to fill in for Drake Caggiula (one-game suspension for illegal check) and Alex Nylander (healthy scratch) during the postseason. The team had more skilled, offensively-gifted players they could’ve used but went with Quenneville, who was the only extra skater with pro playoff experience (2017 Calder Cup Playoffs with Albany). That speaks volumes to how coach Jeremy Colliton and the organization likes Quenneville, specifically for his shot, size and physicality.
Quenneville, who is in the final year of his contract, will likely start the season in the AHL again given the state of Chicago’s roster. The main key for him is to be more selective when being physical so he doesn’t get caught out of position and stays healthy. He’ll likely be one of the first options to be called up from Rockford, but he should be used more in a third-line role in the NHL as a depth player.