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.
MacKenzie Entwistle won the Rockford IceHogs’ most improved skater award for the 2019-20 season and then improved even more in 2021. After putting up 26 points in 56 games in his rookie AHL season, Entwistle scored 12 points in 22 games, essentially matching his goals scored per game and increasing his points per game pace.
Entwistle furthered that improvement by scoring two points (a goal and an assist) in five NHL games with the Blackhawks. Entwistle showed that the areas that were holding him back — namely his skating — were things he addressed.
That work ethic is essential in a bottom-six role, which Entwistle should be able to fill soon. While Entwistle isn’t the most spectacular offensive presence in terms of point production, Entwistle can win board battles with his size (he's 6-4) and move the puck into more productive areas for the next line change.
Entwistle likely tops out as a third-line forward, but he seems very likely to be an NHL player sooner rather than later and be a consistent member of the Blackhawks lineup. He’s not a guy like Alex Nylander or Henrik Borgstrom or Adam Gaudette that Chicago is taking a flyer on. The Blackhawks should know what he is, but that may also be a good thing.
Entwistle’s NHL sample size is too small to draw any serious information from, but he continues to be a grinder who can use his size productively and who can chip in when needed. That’s not a bad thing to have on the roster, especially when so many other pieces are question marks.