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Chicago Blackhawks: Power Ranking the Top 10 Prospects in Their System

James MaahsContributor IIIDecember 17, 2012

Chicago Blackhawks: Power Ranking the Top 10 Prospects in Their System

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    The Chicago Blackhawks are an organization that is stocked with good young talent.

    With so much talent, the Blackhawks are in good position to consistently make the playoffs for at least the next five years.

    But with so much talent, players will have to fight in order to obtain a roster spot. This isn't a bad thing, as it gives the organization and fans a chance to see a prospect's skills in the NHL.

    The future looks bright for the Chicago Blackhawks organization.

    These are the top 10 prospects in their system:

No. 10 Ben Smith

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    Ben Smith has proved to be a versatile forward who can play in almost every situation on the ice.

    The biggest strengths to Smith's game include his ability to outwork the competition and to be positionally sound.

    Some defensive lapses have cost Smith a spot on the Blackhawks' roster, but he can make it back up if he is able to improve his all-around game.

    Smith likes to crash the crease and create opportunities from within, a need that the Blackhawks have been trying to fill ever since the departure of big Dustin Byfuglien.

    Some time, consistency and hard work could help Smith make his way back to the NHL.

No. 9 Jeremy Morin

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    The Blackhawks acquired Jeremy Morin from the Atlanta Thrashers in exchange for Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd.

    Considered to be another top-six forward, Morin has a lot of skating ability and hand-eye skill that would supplement the Blackhawks offense.

    He played nine games with the Blackhawks in the 2010-2011 season, but a concussion knocked him down, and he has yet to make it back.

    For now, Morin is a staple on the Rockford IceHogs, compiling 40 points in 69 games last season.

    It may take another year, but Morin will get his chance to play in the NHL really soon.

No. 8 Teuvo Teravainen

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    The very talented 18-year-old, Teuvo Teravainen, was considered to be a steal by the Blackhawks when they drafted him.

    Teravainen is considered to be an extremely talented forward, one who may be able to crack a spot at the top-two lines.

    The Blackhawks hold this young forward as major player in their future, if all works out in the minors.

    He also is naturally a center; the Blackhawks have been looking for a young prospect that could one day fill their second-line center position.

    The future is bright for Teravainen, but it may be a few years until he gets a call from the Blackhawks.

No. 7 Phillip Danault

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    Phillip Danault is known as a center who has tremendous skill and leadership abilities.

    Sound like anyone familiar on the Blackhawks?

    Over the last two seasons, Danault registered 138 points in 126 games with Victoriaville; numbers that have made NHL scouts praise his potential.

    He may lack the natural scoring touch that could push him to the next level, but Danault has shown hard work and tremendous determination, all of which will likely help him move up.

    Danault will likely have to spend another year down in the QMJHL before he has a chance to crack an NHL roster.

No. 6 Jimmy Hayes

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    Jimmy Hayes made his presence felt as he entered the NHL and used his big body to stay with the Blackhawks.

    Called up in the middle of the season by the Blackhawks, Hayes had nine points in 31 games. But numbers aside, Hayes has an ability to create big hits and generate energy for his team when needed.

    His play has awarded him the opportunity to play in the playoffs last season with the Blackhawks. With average play during the postseason, the Blackhawks are expecting Hayes to pick up his game next season.

    Regardless, the potential is there, and Jimmy Hayes should be a staple on the Blackhawks third or fourth lines.

No. 5 Mark McNeill

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    Mark McNeill has always been touted by GM Stan Bowman as their future second-line center.

    That may very well be so, but the fact remains, there is still work to be down in the minors before McNeill can join the NHL roster.

    Drafted 18th overall in 2011 by the Blackhawks, McNeill has shown some great play in the WHL last season. Registering 71 points in 69 games at that level, McNeill was bumped up to the AHL in the spring. 

    His defensive skills need some work, but his offense is right where it needs to be to fit into a second-line NHL center position.

No. 4 Adam Clendening

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    The top defensive prospect for the Blackhawks is a guy by the name of Adam Clendening.

    Clendening signed an entry-level deal with the Blackhawks this summer after spending two years at Boston University.

    During his sophomore campaign, he registered 33 points in 38 games; great numbers for a solid offensive defenseman.

    Now the organization is hoping that Clendening can fill one of their top-four defensive roles in the coming years. 

    It will take a few years of work before Clendening enters the NHL, but if all goes according to plan, he will be highly effective upon reaching the lineup.

No. 3 Andrew Shaw

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    Winger Andrew Shaw has already showcased his skills at the NHL level.

    In that time, he has impressed the organization with his tenacity and ability to beat out other players for the puck.

    In 37 games with the Blackhawks last season, Shaw put up 12 goals and 11 assists. While his size may not be a big advantage in the NHL, Shaw has been a physical presence on the ice and has shown ability to play in nearly all positions.

    A player of such ability has been very valuable to a Blackhawks roster in need of a good utility player. Shaw has proved that he can play a high-intensity game when needed.

No. 2 Brandon Pirri

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    The future looks bright for the 21-year-old Brandon Pirri.

    Naturally a center, Pirri has been tested both down the middle and on the wings. His talent is in puck control, playmaking and dangling, which helps make up for his small physical appearance.

    He led the Rockford IceHogs in scoring last season with 56 points in 66 games.

    Pirri is a prime candidate to fill the much-needed second-line center position for the Blackhawks. 

    Not to say that Marcus Kruger still doesn't have a shot at the position, but Pirri will most likely receive his chance sometime in the coming season.

    Though his defensive game is a work in progress, and the addition of a few more pounds could go a long way in helping that cause.

    It will take some time and determination, but Pirri will be back up in the NHL and have a great opportunity to show his skill and ability as a top-six forward.

No. 1 Brandon Saad

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    Forward Brandon Saad leads all prospects in the Blackhawks' system.

    Standing at 6'2'' and 205 lbs, Saad can push almost anybody on the ice who gets in his way. To top that off, he has the skill to match his physical attributes.

    He was able to crack a roster spot after an impressive training camp early last season. Two games into his NHL career, Saad was sent back to his junior team in Saginaw. A move made in order to allow Saad more time to mature and to develop into a NHL player.

    Saad scored 76 points in the OHL last season and added another 17 points in the postseason.

    Well on his way to securing a spot on the Blackhawks' top two lines, the only thing that can derail Saad at this point is a season-ending injury.

     

     

    Follow James Maahs on Twitter for all the latest news on the Blackhawks and NHL lockout.


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