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 officially completed their revenge for the Kevin Hayes situation when they signed Wyatt Kalynuk — a former seventh round pick (196th overall) of the Flyers in the 2017 NHL Draft — to a two-year entry-level deal in July.
OK, probably not.
Still, the Blackhawks added another intriguing young blue-liner to their bevvy of defensemen prospects with the addition of the 23-year-old Kalynuk, who spent the past three seasons playing Wisconsin. In his junior season, Kalynuk was the team captain and was second in the Big Ten with 28 points (seven goals, 21 assists) in 36 games during the ‘19-20 season.
Wisconsin head coach Tony Granato raved about Kalynuk to NBC Sports Philadelphia back in March:
“He’s got special offensive ability that other defensemen don’t have. He’s confident, his skating ability allows him to be able to have opportunities offensively that other players won’t have and he can beat the first forechecker.”
The left-handed defenseman excels in the offensive side of the game, with good hockey skills and skating abilities for zone exits that make Kalynuk a constant threat at that end of the rink. He’s projected to be a third-pairing defenseman.
Kalynuk’s biggest issue could be standing out among a crowded room of defensemen in training camp. There are plenty of young players who’ll be auditioning for NHL roles, including 2018 first-round picks Adam Boqvist and Nicolas Beaudin. Ian Mitchell should also receive a long, long look.
But Kalynuk flew up the organizational depth chart during his three years in the Flyers organization and picked the Blackhawks from an initial field of six teams that were bidding for his services after he became a free agent. He seems like a longer shot to make the roster than players like Boqvist or Mitchell, but Kalynuk has likely garnered more attention than he was expected to after being drafted.
Blackhawks assistant general manager Mark Eaton had plenty of praise to heap upon Kalynuk soon after Chicago made his addition official: