Chicago Blackhawks: Patrick Sharp Good Example of Letting a Prospect Develop

Jon FromiSenior Analyst ISeptember 4, 2012

Patrick Sharp was a late bloomer who has become an NHL All-Star.
Patrick Sharp was a late bloomer who has become an NHL All-Star.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Chicago Blackhawks have a lot of talented prospects in the organization looking to make their mark in the coming years. Several players may get their first extended runs in the NHL when the season gets underway.

When that happens, the best course of action will be to be patient and let those players develop. A prime example can be found at the top of the 'Hawks' roster, where Patrick Sharp is preparing to start a five-year, $29.5 million dollar contract.

Guys like Brandon Saad, Brandon Pirri, Jeremy Morin and Jimmy Hayes can't be expected to come aboard an established team and start racking up the points. Casting the tag of "bust" on any of Chicago's hopefuls can't be as simple as proclaiming judgement on a 21-year-old kid.

Not every NHL All-Star hits the league like Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Some take time to develop into the players they have the potential to be.

Take Sharp, for instance. By some standards, Sharp was a bust for the Flyers, who made him a third-round pick out of Vermont in 2001. By age 24, Sharp had just 66 games over parts of three NHL seasons, totaling 10 goals and five assists.

Even after coming over to Chicago in December of 2005, Sharp still took some time to develop. His first big season came in 2007-08 with 36 goals and 26 assists at age 26.

Sharp didn't really start producing for an NHL team until the season before that in 06-07, when he turned in a 20-goal season for the 'Hawks. By then, a lot of folks would have labeled him as a wasted pick using the standards we hold some of Chicago's up-and-comers.

Saad is still 19. Morin and Pirri are 21. The current wearer of the bust cap, Kyle Beach, is just 22, as is Jimmy Hayes. The point being that these and several other Blackhawks prospects may still become solid NHL players and more even if they don't set the league on fire for a few seasons.

It's a good bet that at least one of the above prospects will be traded in the future. After all, the roster is much deeper than when Sharp joined the team seven years ago, meaning there likely won't be room for all of these prospective 'Hawks.

If and when that happens, don't let it come as a complete shock that a Chicago castoff could flourish elsewhere, blossom in his mid-20's, and skate into the United Center as an All-Star for an opposing NHL team.

If they are as fortunate as Sharp, they may just be starting a fat contract to boot.