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2020 Blackhawks Top 25 Under 25: Dual reactions to players in Nos. 16-20 group

The Second City Hockey staff shares their thoughts on the next five players to make the list.

San Jose Sharks v Chicago Blackhawks
Brandon Hagel of the Chicago Blackhawks skates against the San Jose Sharks at the United Center in Chicago
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

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 next five spots in SCH’s 2020-21 Top 25 rankings were unveiled over the past week, so it’s time again to do a dual reaction with the staff’s thoughts on how the bottom quarter of the top 20 shaped up.

Dave

Too high: N/A

Too low: Wyatt Kalynuk (No. 15 on my list)

Similar to what I said in our first roundtable recap, it’s still closer to splitting hairs at this point of the rankings, with the gaps between 16 and 20 so miniscule they’re hard to delineate. Part of the reason why I’m higher on Kalynuk is that the Blackhawks were among the field of six teams who were bidding for his services after Kalynuk elected to not sign with the Flyers, who drafted him in 2017. Considering Kalynuk is already 23 years old, though, we should find out pretty quickly if he’s going to be worthy of an NHL spot in the future.

Shepard

Too high: Alex Vlasic (No. 18 on my list)

Too low: Brandon Hagel (No. 15 on my list)

Alex Vlasic is unimpressive offensively. Just four assists in his freshman season at Boston University was quite lacking, especially on the third-best offense in Hockey East — one of the NCAA’s best conferences. He has a lower ceiling than other players in the 16-20 range and it’s hard to make the NHL without some offensive ability (even Niklas Hjalmarsson has scored at least one goal in all but one of his NHL seasons).

Hagel was the Rockford IceHogs’ MVP for the season in 2019-20 and had an impressive rookie season in the NHL’s top developmental league. That’s following up a 100+ point performance in the WHL. He can be a bottom-six contributor in the NHL and is young enough to be at that point after the rebuild.