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.
Galvas was a bit of an unknown commodity when the Chicago Blackhawks signed the left-handed defenseman to an NHL contract last May. Galvas had spent his entire professional career in Europe, bouncing between the Czech Republic and Finland. He’d made plenty of appearances for his native Czech Republic team in international competitions, including a stint as an alternate captain for the 2019 World Juniors. Still, as a fifth-round pick who was already on the verge of turning 22 when the Blackhawks signed him last spring, Galvas’ signing didn’t arrive with too much fanfare.
But Galvas’ presence on this list alone — the first time he’s appeared in this series — is indicative of the heads Galvas turned during his first season on North American ice. He was a fixture on the blue line in Rockford, providing a perfect defensive-minded counter for an IceHogs’ defense corps that was stocked with more offensive-oriented players. Galvas’ smooth skating was as good as anyone on the IceHogs and he combined that with a strong hockey IQ and solid stickwork to be one of Rockford’s more reliable players in the defensive zone. As the clip below indicates, the somewhat undersized Galvas had a savvy way of using his body to separate opposing players from the puck:
That strong AHL play helped Galvas earn an NHL call-up in January and he was thrown straight into the fire: Galvas skated 23:40 in his first NHL game, a 4-2 Blackhawks win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Jan. 11. Galvas played at 5-on-5, on the penalty kill and led the team that night with 6:52 of power-play ice time. In heavily sheltered minutes, Galvas’ possession numbers were well into the positive: 64.0 CF%, 76.53 xGF%, 66.7 HDCF%. And while this last point is wholly anecdotal and may not mean anything in the long run, the general consensus from everything this author saw and read about Galvas’ brief NHL tenure is that he didn’t look out of place upon promotion to the NHL. Considering he’d spent several years playing against full-grown men in European leagues, though, it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that Galvas had an easier time with the NHL transition than players who faced opponents closer to their age group.
The Blackhawks’ signing of Jack Johnson earlier this month added another body to an already crowded group of veteran defenseman under contract in Chicago. After receiving his first NHL action last season, Galvas seemed to be one of the players who could make a larger leap to the NHL in the upcoming season. That seems less likely now, and that Galvas will spend the majority of the 2022-23 hockey season honing his skills in Rockford. But Galvas also figures to be high on the list of players who’d be called up should injuries or other circumstances open up a roster spot in Chicago.