CHICAGO – The Chicago Blackhawks wrapped up their annual prospect camp Friday. The camp entailed mostly skill work and practice for players under entry-level contracts, but unsigned prospects had a number of chances to compete throughout.
Here are some of those prospects who stood out during the six-day gathering at Johnny’s IceHouse West:
John Hayden, forward, third-round pick in 2013: Hayden made an impression with his size and offensive ability during the week, including on Chicago general manager Stan Bowman, who mentioned him first after the camp. Hayden is one of the Blackhawks’ bigger forward prospects at 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds. He showed he has more than size, displaying some skating ability and a knack for scoring goals (four over three scrimmages). He’ll be a sophomore at Yale next season.
Nick Schmaltz, forward, first-round pick in 2014: Schmaltz hit the ice as a Blackhawks prospect for the first time since being drafted in June, and he didn’t disappoint. The 18-year-old Wisconsin native has some elite offensive skills. He has quick hands and knows how to create space for himself -- and turned in a handful of highlight plays during the week. If he continues to develop, it’ll be difficult for the Blackhawks to keep him in college for four years. He’s set to be a freshman at North Dakota next season.
Anthony Louis, forward, sixth-round pick in 2013: Louis could be one of those late-round steals for the Blackhawks. His size (5-7, 150 pounds) is always going to be questioned, but he’s a tremendous playmaker. He was on a line with Hayden and Schmaltz throughout the week, and there was magic at times between them. Louis created something out of nothing, and it often led to goals for his linemates during the camp. He’ll be a sophomore at Miami (Ohio) next season.
Nick Mattson, defenseman, sixth-round pick in 2010: Mattson was attending his fifth prospect camp and will likely have one more in his future. The Blackhawks have liked his development since they drafted when he was in the USHL. He caught people’s attention with his ability to maneuver with the puck and see the ice during the week. His defensive game has also improved over the years. He’ll return to North Dakota for his senior season.
Vince Hinostroza, forward, sixth-round pick in 2012: Hinostroza arrived to the camp late because of school obligations, but made up for it by the end of the week. He has taken some steps in his game since last season and put on some muscle. He was stronger with the puck and scored three goals over the final two scrimmages. He had a productive freshman season at Notre Dame, and the Blackhawks like where his game is headed. He’s set to return to the Fighting Irish for his sophomore campaign.
Michael Paliotta, defenseman, third-round pick in 2011: Paliotta is another defenseman who has been around the block a few times at the prospect camp and has made some strides. He has quality size at 6-3 and 198 pounds and can skate. He has more of a shutdown defenseman, but he does possess offensive ability. He scored a goal on a big shot from the blue line during the second scrimmage. He’ll be a senior at Vermont next season.
Robin Norell, defenseman, fourth-round pick in 2013: Norell looked further ahead than the organization’s other Swedish defensemen at the camp. He was solid all week. He was able handle the puck and be defensively responsible. He’s still only 19, but he’s coming along. He’s expected to play in Sweden again next season.
Beau Starrett, forward, third-round pick in 2014: Starrett can’t be missed as a 6-5 forward. He’s a long-term project and won’t even begin college until 2015, but he could be worth the wait. He displayed a powerful shot and scored twice during the scrimmages. He’s expected to play in the USHL next season.