CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks prospect camp wrapped up this past week. Here’s a review of how some of the players performed at the camp:
Tyler Motte (forward, 20 years old, 4th round in 2013) made his presence known this year after missing the 2014 camp because of school responsibilities. Motte isn’t the type of player who will often wow you with his offensive skill, but he does everything well. He was consistently around the puck throughout the week. He was aggressive backchecking and forechecking and forced turnovers. He was also one of the more physical players in the camp. He does have some offensive ability and pulled off a highlight play with a backhand, no-look pass to set up a goal during Friday’s final scrimmage. He will be entering his junior year at Michigan.
Roy Radke (forward, 18, 6th round in 2015) made a strong first impression by scoring three goals in the camp’s first scrimmage. Radke has good size at 6-foot-3, 203 pounds, and he’s able to maneuver with the puck. He was able to get around defensemen a number of times and make plays at the net. He may be a steal for the Blackhawks in the sixth round if he continues to play like that. A number of onlookers mentioned Radke after the week. He’ll return to the OHL next season.
Anthony Louis (forward, 20, 6th round in 2013) continued to show why he’s one of the organization’s top offensive prospects. He had the puck often and was making plays. His size (5-foot-7, 150 pounds) will always be questioned, but it again wasn’t an issue throughout the camp. He eluded most hits and was able to create time and space for himself. He may have been the fastest player at the camp. One of the more noticeable plays he made was when he took a shot in the deep slot, was the first one to the rebound and got off another shot. He’ll be a junior at Miami Ohio next year.
Erik Gustafsson (defenseman, 23, signed as a free agent) was the defenseman who is closest to being NHL-ready in the camp. He is older and does have more professional experience than the other defensemen in the camp. He’s played in Sweden’s top league for much of the last three seasons. He was solid offensively and defensively during the week. He could have a shot at making the Blackhawks out of training camp if they don’t sign another experienced defenseman.
Graham Knott (forward, 18, 2nd round in 2015) was another forward who had some impressive moments in the camp. He has size at 6-foot-3, 190 pounds and created some chances.
Ryan Haggerty (forward, 22, acquired in trade) came over in the recent trade with the New York Rangers for Antti Raanta and got his first taste of the prospect camp. He showed some strength and ability to get to the net during the camp. He should play a significant role for the Rockford IceHogs this season.
There was no surprise that players like Marko Dano (forward, 20, acquired in trade) and Kyle Baun (forward, 23, free agent) were often noticeable on the ice. Dano pretty much has a spot locked up on the Blackhawks next season, and Baun already impressed Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville with his play last season. Mark McNeill (forward, 22, 1st round in 2011) and Garret Ross (forward, 23, 5th round in 2012) also did nothing to hurt their stocks. They’re certain to get long looks at training camp.
Tanner Kero (forward, 22, free agent) isn’t discussed as much as some of the organization’s forwards, but he could be a surprise come training camp. He just has a knack for being around the puck and scoring goals. He had seven goals and one assist in 12 games for the IceHogs last season. He was solid throughout the camp and had a couple notable plays in the final scrimmage.
Fredrik Olofsson (forward, 19, 4th round in 2014) showed real progress from last year’s camp. He made some offensive plays from the wing and was able to create scoring chances. He will be a freshman at Nebraska-Omaha next season.
Nick Schmaltz (forward, 19, 1st round in 2014) had a mixed week. He had moments where he shined and displayed his quick hands and immense offensive skill. There were other moments where he disappeared. He didn’t create many offensive opportunities in the scrimmages. Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman and others from the organization spoke highly of Schmaltz’s play throughout the week, but Schmaltz was also described as “having a long ways to go.” He will be a sophomore at North Dakota next year.
Sam Jardine (defenseman, 21, 6th round in 2011) was participating in his fifth prospect camp and understood the importance of it. He hasn’t heard much from the Blackhawks yet about their plans for him after his upcoming senior year at Ohio State. He was driven to play well and did just that. He stood out among the defensemen in the young group. He made quick passes out of the zone, got involved in the offense at times and scored a goal. He struggled defensively in the camp’s first scrimmage, but he improved as the week went on.
Defenseman Nolan Valleau, forwards Kevin Rooney, Zachary Anton-Reese and Kirill Semyonov and goalie Stefan Steen were among the unsigned invitees who caught people’s eyes.
Gustav Forsling (defenseman, 19, acquired in trade) attended the camp, but he wasn’t able to participate in a lot of the drills because he’s still recovering from wrist surgery. He had a strong season last year and has quickly moved up the organization’s prospect rankings as other top defensemen have been traded away.
Luke Johnson (forward, 20, 5th round in 2013) just never stops working and was active throughout the camp. John Hayden (forward, 20, 3rd round in 2013) had a couple goals over the course of the week and was one of the more physical players. Vincent Hinostroza (forward, 21, 6th round in 2012) looked like he belonged with the older players.
It’s an important year for Swedish defensemen Carl Dahlstrom (20, 2nd round in 2013), Robin Norell (20, 4th round in 2013) and Robin Press (20, 7th round in 2013). All three players got a quick look in Rockford last season and will be headed back to Sweden this season. All three had some good and bad in the camp, but none appeared close to being NHL-ready at this point. Norell is a mobile defenseman. Press can handle the puck and create some offense. Dahlstrom’s length and size allows him to break up plays. Andreas Soderberg (19, 5th round in 2014) is another Swedish defenseman to watch. He showed some potential with his 6-foot-4 frame and skating ability.
Beau Starrett (forward, 19, 3rd round in 2014) picked up points in two of the scrimmages. Chris Calnan (forward, 21, 3rd round in 2012) couldn’t attend the camp until later in the week, but he played well in the final scrimmage and scored a goal. John Dahlstrom (forward, 18, 7th round in 2015) scored two goals in a scrimmage.