Second City Hockey’s 2022-23 preseason Blackhawks Top 25 Under 25 series ranks the organization’s top 25 players under the age of 25 by Oct. 1, 2022. 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.
Dropping six spots from last year’s Top 25 Under 25 rankings is not as much of an indictment on MacKenzie Entwistle as it hope for the future of the newly arrived prospects in the Chicago Blackhawks system.
Through 55 games with the Blackhawks in 2021-22, Entwistle exemplified the phrase, “he was what we thought we was,” which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Between the coaching changes and the overall state of the team, though, Entwistle seemed to get lost in the mix.
It can’t be stressed enough that the Blackhawks numbers last season were largely impacted but the state of the roster and coaching situation. With that said, Entwistle proved to be a solid, reliable bottom six forward. The problem with that, though, is that the Hawks seemed to employ more bottom six forwards than anything else.
The big-framed, 23-year-old winger contributed 12 points (5 G, 7 A) in 55 games. That stat line isn’t the most impressive one, but Entwistle did take advantage of the few offensive opportunities he was given, often using his awareness and vision to contribute to the play.
Although Entwistle’s possession-based numbers above aren’t great, it must also be stressed that his successes and failures were tied to the situations when he was used. A shot attempt share of 40.14% and an expected goal share of 38.59% aren’t great. However, taking into consideration the struggles of the team and the fact that he started in the defensive zone about 75% of the time, that ugly number cannot be pinned entirely on Entwistle.
Entwistle still displayed decent skating ability and was a fairly reliable player in each zone. He wasn’t asked to do too much, but he showed solid fundamentals from shift to shift. The main reasons why he dropped six spots on this list is because of the players with higher ceilings who joined the organization in the last few months.
Let’s not get things twisted: what Entwistle brings to the table as a reliable, bottom-six forward is essential to every successful team. The problem is that the Blackhawks are in a rebuild and their roster is filled to the brim with players who could take No. 58’s spot and match what he does. And while it wouldn’t be impossible for him to take a massive leap forward and raise his ceiling above the bottom-six level, it seems unlikely to happen for a player who turned 23 last month..
The same thing can be said for Entwistle that’s been said for a plethora of other Hawks forwards: we like him, he's a nice player but he's not a difference-maker. He’s a great depth piece to have on a team that will contend for the playoffs. Unfortunately, the Blackhawks find themselves a long way away from the postseason. Hopefully for Entwistle, he will find his place in the Hawks ‘22-23 lineup and make the most of it.