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Blackhawks decide not to sign Alexis Gravel, 3 prospects from 2016 NHL draft class

Chicago moves on from four prospects.

2018 NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7 Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

As expected, the Blackhawks opted not to sign four prospects and let their draft rights expire Monday with goaltenders Alexis Gravel and Wouter Peeters, right wing Mathias From and defenseman Jake Ryczek.

Gravel, a 2018 sixth-round pick, was one of the best QMJHL goalies during the 2018-19 season and helped the Halifax Mooseheads reach the President’s Cup and Memorial Cup finals, where they fell to Rouyn-Noranda both times. He looked to be in the Blackhawks’ future plans, but an early injury caused by a shard of glass from his terrarium slicing his foot and an inexperienced team in front of him led to a heavy workload and some struggles. He had a .893 save percentage and one shutout and did not make Canada’s World Junior Championship roster.

The decision not to sign Peeters, From and Ryczek — all members of Chicago’s nine-player 2016 draft class — isn’t surprising.

Peeters, a third rounder, had a .899 save percentage in 23 games for Jokerit’s junior league in Finland the season after he was drafted then played for Youngstown in the USHL, but failed to stick with Lincoln the following season and went back to Europe. He bounced around from Finland, his native Belgium and England.

The Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has selected nine goalies since his first draft in 2010, with Kent Simpson, 2010 second rounder, the only one to reach the NHL. He allowed two goals in a 7-3 loss against the Maple Leafs on Dec. 14, 2013, in Toronto, in his only NHL game.

Chicago still holds the rights to Ivan Nalimov, 2014 sixth rounder, who joined the Rockford IceHogs on a professional tryout contract this spring for a few practice days but never played in a game. He could sign with a KHL team or return to the AHL next season.

From, fifth rounder, played in the SHL with Rögle BK then in Sweden’s second division, Allsvenskan, for Södertälje SK, AIK and MODO since he was drafted. He started to produce more this past season, scoring 25 points (12 goals, 13 assists) in 49 games with MODO then after not hearing from the Blackhawks signed a one-year contract with Düsseldorfer EG in Germany’s top division, DEL, in April. Metallurg also traded his KHL rights to Spartak Moscow on Monday.

Ryczek, a seventh rounder who was teammates with Gravel from 2017-19 in Halifax, is the lone player among the group to have played as a professional in North America for the Blackhawks organization. After his QMJHL career, he signed a one-year AHL contract and had 17 points (four goals, 13 assists) in 46 ECHL games for the Indy Fuel. He has not been re-signed.