In the latest check-in on Blackhawks prospects around the hockey world, the 2020 draft class continues to exceed expectations.
Arguably the Blackhawks’ most important prospect outside of the NHL, Lukas Reichel has been a consistent producer for Eisbären Berlin since his promotion to top-line center in mid-January. The 18-year old hasn’t gone without a point in more than one game since the start of February and is currently on his fourth points streak of three games or more, scoring four points (1 G, 3 A) in his last three games.
Reichel’s 21 points (7 G, 14 A) for the season has him tied for 23rd in the league, but it’s important to note the age differences of those around him: Reichel is the only teenager in the top 30 and everyone with more points is 26 or older. Also, according to @5plusspieldauer, Reichel’s expected goals percentage at 5-on-5 (64.39) is sixth in the league for players with at least 100 minutes.
To compare to a recent DEL graduate from the same draft class, Ottawa Senators forward Tim Stützle (3rd overall) finished with 0.83 PPG while Reichel is at 0.88 PPG.
Second-round pick Drew Commesso’s season is officially over, and he finished strong with Boston University, going 6-2-1 with a 0.924 SV% and a 2.68 GAA. The freshmen goalie was named to the Hockey East All-Rookie Team as well as nominated for Rookie of the Year.
The @ProAmbitions Men's Rookie of the Year Finalists:— Hockey East (@hockey_east) March 14, 2021
⭐️ Drew Commesso, @TerrierHockey
⭐️ Josh Lopina, @UMassHockey
⭐️ Nikita Nesterenko, @BCHockey
Winner announced March 17th! pic.twitter.com/qOMKuKZ7Ab
The season has ended for Landon Slaggert as well, but not before he extended his point streak to seven games with an assist in Notre Dame’s 6-3 loss in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference Frozen Faceoff Championship. The third-round pick had 10 points (3 G, 7 A) during his point streak and 22 points (8 G, 14 A) in 25 games for the season.
Wyatt Kaiser, a third-round pick in 2020 who’s playing for Minnesota-Duluth, picked up his 10th assist of the season in Monday’s 3-2 loss to St. Cloud in the NCHC Championship. It’s unclear if Kaiser’s season is over yet as the Bulldogs may yet receive a bid into the NCAA Tournament. Kaiser played on the top-pairing logging big minutes all season and was also recently named to the NCHC All-Rookie team.
JUST IN: @UMDMensHockey's Wyatt Kaiser has been named to the NCHC's 2020-21 All-Rookie team...— UMD Athletics (@UMDBulldogs) March 8, 2021
NCHC Release https://t.co/URkp3D3LJS#BulldogCountry pic.twitter.com/Vih49hztjr
Elsewhere in the hockey world:
Dominic Basse, G | Josiah Slavin, LW | Alex Vlasic, D | Jake Wise, LW (NCAA)
Several other Blackhawks prospects’ seasons have come to a close in the NCAA.
Basse (sixth round, 2019) had a rough end to his freshman season and was unable to play in the last game with Colorado College. Overall, he was 4-11-1 with a .895 save percentage and 3.18 GAA.
Also with Colorado College, Slavin (seventh round, 2018) finished with 13 points (5 G, 8 A) in 22 games for the season, and he remains a contender for the 2021 Hobey Baker Award as NCAA Player of the Year. According to the tweet below from sports agency KO Sports, the 6-3 left winger signed an NHL contract with the Blackhawks on Monday.
Vlasic (second-round, 2019) had 9 points (3 G, 5 A) in 15 games while playing on the top-pair for the Terriers. The offensive improvement is something to watch when it comes to Vlasic, since this is his first season of consistent production.
Unfortunately, Wise (third-round, 2018) continued to have issues related to injuries throughout his junior season, appearing in only four games with Boston University and producing one assist in that span.
Artur Kayumov, LW (KHL)
Kayumov (second-round, 2016) has two assists in his last three games with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl after going seven games without a point. The left-winger now has 29 points (12G, 17A) in 57 regular KHL season games and 2 points — both assists — in four Gagarin Cup Playoff games. Kayumov’s team is set to face CSKA Moskva in the second round of playoffs starting Wednesday.
Niklas Nordgren, RW | Antti Saarela, C (Liiga)
Nordgren (third-round, 2018) has not played a game with HIFK of the Finnish Liiga since his loan with the Pelicans of the same league. It’s unknown if his absence from the line-up is injury related — he did get injured in his final Pelicans appearance but returned to the game — or healthy scratch related.
In the same league, Saarela has recently been demoted to playing fourth-line center with Ilves, likely due to his production struggles. After a 20-game scoreless streak, he had three goals and one assist in four games, but has now gone four games without a point. Saarela has 14 points (7 G, 7 A) in 44 games.
Rockford IceHogs (AHL)
After a slow start to the season, 2017 third-round pick Andrei Altybarmakyan has been performing consistently well in Rockford with four points in his last five games. The winger has 6 points (3 G, 3 A) in 12 games, which is tied for best among forwards on the team. Coach Derek King recently said he was a “big fan” of Altybarmakyan, complimenting his skill set and compete level.
Fellow 2017 third-round pick Evan Barratt, a center, also has six points (2 G, 4 A), and although his production has been more sporadic than Altybarmakyan, he’s still tied for the lead among forwards. Barratt also has two points (1 G, 1 A) in his last three games, including a primary assist on the game-tying goal in Rockford’s 2-1 overtime win over Grand Rapids on Saturday.
MacKenzie Entwistle — acquired from the Coyotes in the Marian Hossa trade — has only three points (1 G, 2 A) in nine games since being reassigned to Rockford from the Blackhawks taxi squad, but he’s also been tasked with playing the highest quality of competition for the IceHogs as both top-line center and as top forward on the penalty kill.
After a hot start with four points (3 G, 1A) in three games, Brad Morrison has cooled down with just one assist in his last three games. The forward did spend on time on the Blackhawks taxi squad, but he wasn’t rotating in with the lineup as frequently as some others forwards and has only appeared in six games of the 13 games for Rockford. Morrison was acquired from LA Kings in the Olli Maatta trade.
Michael Krutil (fourth round, 2020) has struggled with Rockford so far, and it’s obvious the 18-year-old defensemen really isn’t ready for professional hockey. The Blackhawks are obviously invested in his progress as he’s appeared in 11 of the 13 games, but it’s a shame the delay to start of the CHL season impacted his development route.
From the same draft class, defensemen Isaak Phillips (fifth round, 2020) has continued to perform solidly in primarily a second-pairing role with the IceHogs. Like with Krutil, Phillips has appeared in 11 games this season and has four points (2 G, 2A). Phillips is still signed to just a professional-tryout contract with the IceHogs.
Cale Moberg (seventh round, 2019), who is also still on professional-tryout contract, hasn’t been getting as consistent playing time as the two defenseman mentioned above. He has two assists in eight games.
Defensemen Alec Regula is still performing well in primarily top-four minutes with in Rockford. Although his production from the OHL has yet to translate consistently — he has only three points (2 G, 1 A) in 10 games — that is likely impacted by the IceHog’s overall offensive issues and there are definite flashes of what he showcases in juniors.
Center Chad Yetman hasn’t had a point in his last seven games, but that’s primarily due to his role on the IceHogs’ defensive fourth-line. He did have three points (1 G, 1 A) in higher line role but was demoted with the return of Entwistle and the rise of Barratt.