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.
Alex Vlasic had his first taste of NHL hockey last spring, signing with the Chicago Blackhawks on March 15 after his junior season ended at Boston. Vlasic was named a Hockey East Conference all-star during his final NCAA season while playing top-pairing minutes for the Terriers.
Vlasic was eased into the NHL after signing with Chicago, with ice times of 6:10, 7:54 and 7:00, respectively, in his first three games. He ended the season with back-to-back games of over 20 minutes on the ice, including a season-high 21:02 during a 4-3 Blackhawks’ win over the Vegas Golden Knights on April 27. Vlasic has always been billed as a defense-first player, but he did tally his first NHL goal on April 20 against the Arizona Coyotes thanks for a fortunate hop from a former Blackhawks’ draft pick:
There weren’t any other memorable moments from Vlasic’s initial cup of coffee with the NHL, which isn’t the worst thing in the world for a defenseman — especially one who’s not going to be lighting things up on the offensive side of the ice. Vlasic’s expected goal share of 53.65 percent was about 10 percent over the team rate when he played, so the Blackhawks were having higher-quality possession with Vlasic on the ice and he wasn’t playing wholly sheltered minutes. It’s nothing that’ll put Vlasic in the Hall of Fame already but it’s a positive sign for a blue-liner who couldn’t legally buy a drink in the US until this June.
The most interesting part of Vlasic’s time with the Blackhawks is that he stayed with the parent club for the final two months of the season, never joining the other prospects in Rockford as they qualified for and played in the Calder Cup Playoffs. It suggests that the organization could be higher on Vlasic than they are on some other D prospects, but that’s something we’ll have to monitor going forward.
One minor detail to watch with Vlasic: he’s currently listed at 6-6, 199 pounds on the Blackhawks roster, which lines up with his first two seasons at Boston. On the Terriers’ roster from last season, though, he’s at 6-6, 211. Vlasic isn’t going to beef up to 250, but one common refrain on his development was that he needed to add some muscle to that lanky, 6-6 frame. That’ll be something we could learn early in training camp in just a few weeks.
Outside of that, Vlasic would seem to be another prospect destined for the AHL, given the Blackhawks repeated commitment to not rushing any of their prospects to the NHL. A full season of top-pairing minutes in the AHL wouldn’t be the worst result for Vlasic but he also seems to be high on the list of preferred call-ups should any roster spots become available in Chicago.
Feels like we’ve been saying that a lot, doesn’t it?