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.
The Blackhawks tried to trade up in the first round to select Russian goaltender Yaroslav Askarov, but when they couldn’t strike a deal they turned to the second round to take a goalie. Chicago waited and selected Drew Commesso of United States National Team Development Program under-18 at No. 46 overall to be the second goalie off the board.
Commesso, ranked No. 2 North American goalie by NHL Central Scouting, is the 10th goalie drafted by Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman. Kent Simpson (2010 second rounder, No. 58) is the only one among the group to have played in the NHL for the Blackhawks, with one appearance.
“Athletic goaltender, really good size,” Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley said. “He’s a bright kid, he’s a student of the game. A lot of times we don’t talk about goaltenders and the goaltenders’ hockey sense, but with Drew, I think it’s obvious. His IQ, he understands how the play develops. So I think that bodes well for him.”
Commesso looks to be Bowman’s second goalie to make the NHL, thanks in large part to his situational awareness and skating. He plays the game aggressively with confidence as he owns the crease with crisp skating movements. He’s a quick goalie and tracks pucks well, but his movement in and out of the crease will need to improve to adjust to the speed at the NCAA level.
“I’m a very calm and efficient goalie,” Commesso said. “You won’t really find me scrambling or making those crazy highlight-reel saves too much. I’d rather just make the simple save in my chest. I try to simplify the game as much as possible and be very efficient. I think that helps my team a lot, too, just in the hectic moments of the game knowing that I have everything under control.
“There’s a lot of things I want to work on as well. As I go into college, the game’s going to get faster and I want to work on my rebound control and skating. Those are two big areas.”
Commesso will begin his collegiate career at Boston University, where he’ll be teammates with fellow Chicago prospects Jake Wise (junior center) and Alex Vlasic (sophomore defenseman). Commesso is also projected to be the third-string goalie for the United States at the World Junior Championship behind Spencer Knight (Panthers) and Dustin Wolf (Flames).