Before we dive into our final roundtable discussion of the series, here is the full ballot from each of the four voters for this version of the Blackhawks Top 25 Under 25 rankings:
Too high: Adam Boqvist (No. 4 on my list)
Too low: Dylan Strome (No. 3 on my list)
The top five tends to be unanimous in these rankings every year and that trend continued this time around. The order was slightly different on mine, as I had Strome ahead of Boqvist. That’s mostly a result of Strome’s track record of NHL-level production while Boqvist had his share of struggles in his debut season, most notably in that first-round series against the Golden Knights. The ceiling for each player remains rather high, although I’d add that Boqvist still has more to prove at the NHL level.
It’s also very encouraging to see Dach jump from No. 4 in the the winter rankings to No. 1 in these rankings. Dach was a bit of a surprise selection in that spot but his rookie season has made the Blackhawks scouting department look good. If only every Chicago team had that much success with picks that high in the first round.
Overall, the biggest surprise on this list is seeing Matthew Highmore jump eight spots (No. 23 to No. 15). Not that he wasn’t worthy of it — Highmore had a strong postseason and could very well be a strong fourth-line contributor in upcoming seasons. But all the injuries Highmore had been dealing with earlier in his career had caused some pessimism regarding his long-term outlook within the organization. Pius Suter jumping in at No. 8 is largely due to how well Dominik Kubalik fared in his first NHL season and indicative of the expectations surrounding him.
Too high: N/A
Too low: N/A
The top five matched my top five this year. Dach looks to be a genuine first-line center in the future and certainly has the skills for the position. DeBrincat’s last season should be just a fluke. If his shooting percentage can return to normal (8.7 in 2019-20, down from a career average of 14.3 percent) he’ll be back to 30 goals this season (or at least a 30-goal pace).
Strome should be an important part of the Blackhawks’ top nine and Adam Boqvist is a good offensive defenseman. He needs work in his own end, but that’s a pattern for the Blackhawks’ young defensemen (except Alex Vlasic who needs the opposite, work in the offensive zone). Mitchell looks to be the most well-rounded of the Blackhawks’ blue line futures but will be a few years away from hitting his potential in the NHL.
My ballot was done based on four factors: ceiling, NHL readiness, organizational fit and personal preference. No player scored a 10 out of 10 in all four categories.