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2020 Blackhawks Top 25 Under 25: Dual reactions to players in Nos. 6-10 group

The Second City Hockey staff shares their thoughts on the first five players in the top 10.

2019 NHL Global Series Challenge Germany - Chicago Blackhawks v Eisbaren Berlin
Lukas Reichel of Eisbaren Berlin and Alexander Nylander of the Chicago Blackhawks skate in the NHL Global Series Challenge 2019 match
Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images


Too high: Nicolas Beaudin (No. 12 on my list)

Too low: N/A

Much of my concern with Beaudin involves how long it took for him to receive an NHL call-up last season, when the Blackhawks defense had plenty of open spots to be obtained. There were performance and injury issues all over Chicago’s blue line, yet Beaudin remained in the AHL while guys like Dennis Gilbert played 21 games and Nick Seeler was claimed on waivers before appearing in six Blackhawks games. This could be more of a reflection on the Blackhawks organization than on Beaudin, however, as the type of game Seeler and Gilbert play is much different than that of Beaudin. But the constant stream of players who kept moving ahead of Beaudin in the organizational pipeline have raised my concern about the nature of his long-term standing in Chicago.

And now I’ll get out of the way because Shepard is starting his Festivus celebration early with a significant airing of grievances regarding Alex Nylander.


Too high: Alex Nylander (No. 23 on my list)

Too low: N/A

What, perchance, is Alex Nylander’s ceiling? I’d venture not very high.

Sure, he’s got talent, but he’s never, in four seasons of professional hockey, shown the ability to put together that talent consistently. At what point does that become the rule and not just a phase? For that matter, what has he done to prove that it’s not the rule?

I believe that point is now and there’s no evidence that he’s ever going to be better than he already is. As of now, I don’t believe Nylander is worth much except as a fourth liner (or low-end third) who can come up with takeaways in the offensive zone. He’s certainly worthless on the power play. I think there are a lot of prospects in the Chicago pipeline with higher ceilings than that.

The above graph shows Nylander’s detrimental effect on the Blackhawks’ power play. With Nylander on the ice while Chicago had the man advantage, it averaged 4.41 expected goals per 60 minutes, which is 37 percent below league average. In the graph below, which accounts for the Blackhawks power play ice time without Nylander on the ice, it averaged 7.93 expected goals per 60 minutes, which is 13 percent above league average.

Nylander would have been better served by being sent down to Rockford at some point last season. His development (hopefully he can still develop) might not be done. Having a coach willing to work with him without the pressures of playing on an NHL first or second line may have helped.

Yet he lacks motor during the majority of shifts. There were thoughts that, maybe, playing with legitimate talent would jumpstart him. He opened the postseason on a line with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane (Nylander was also a frequent linemate of Kane’s in the regular season). How did that turn out? Zero points in eight games and a healthy scratch in the Blackhawks’ final playoff game. He got outscored by David Kampf, Ryan Carpenter and Calvin de Haan (each had one point).

If Nylander was 60th overall, instead of eighth overall, we’d already be having the conversation about Nylander that we should be: how high does that trade rank in the list of Stan Bowman’s worst? (Personally, it’s after Phil Danault but could be tied with the Teuvo Teravainen trade. At least that trade accomplished something, even if it was something dumb.)