Second City Hockey’s 2021-22 preseason Blackhawks Top 25 Under 25 series ranks the organization’s top 25 players under the age of 25 by Oct. 1, 2021. The rankings are determined by a composite score from all four SCH writers. 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.
Alec Regula was one of the players to benefit from the Chicago Blackhawks’ stated youth movement in the 2021 NHL season, making his NHL debut with a trio of games at the end of the season. He did not tally a point and his possession numbers don’t look great but that sample size is too limited to draw any sort of healthy conclusion from. It is worth noting that Regula saw time on the second power-play unit during those NHL games, a carryover from his offensive prowess in the OHL:
Where Regula did impress was down in the AHL, where coach Derek King praised his performance long with another young blue-liner who appeared on this list a few days ago.
#IceHogs HC Derek King points out Alec Regula and Isaak Phillips as two rookies who stood out to him this season. One of King's sayings is that "you have to get the "Junior" out of young players." Says those two did that this season.#AHL— Mario Tirabassi (@Mario_Tirabassi) May 17, 2021
The appeal of Regula is obvious: he has a massive frame and still skates well. He also has enough offensive ability to be a threat at that end of the ice, as displayed on this nifty backhand goal while playing with the IceHogs:
The intriguing part for guys like Regula is in answering the question of, “What’s next?” So let’s talk about that.
The pipeline for defenseman in Chicago is incredibly clogged at the moment. With Connor Murphy signing a contract extension on Tuesday, the top three (in no particular order) of Murphy, Jake McCabe and Seth Jones are committed for at least the next four seasons. Calvin de Haan is under contract for one more year but should factor into the lineup as well. After that, there are a plethora of candidates for ice time at the NHL level: Riley Stillman and Wyatt Kalynuk and Caleb Jones and Ian Mitchell and Nicolas Beaudin and on and on.
All of that is to say it feels like Regula seems destined for another season in Rockford, although it feels like there would be ice time available in Chicago at some point over the course of an 82-game season due to injuries or poor performance or perhaps even some COVID-related absences. Out of that swath of prospects, it would certainly benefit the Blackhawks if one or two or more could take a significant step forward in their development and play at a level that demands they be on the ice in Chicago. While he may not be considered a favorite for that possibility, Regula has to be in the conversation.