Ranking the Top Performers at Chicago Blackhawks' Prospect Camp
They are solid contenders for the Stanley Cup on an annual basis and have a boatload of talent throughout the organization. That includes the team's entry-level players.
The Blackhawks held their annual prospect camp last week. General manager Stan Bowman, head coach Joel Quenneville and the coaching staff got an up-close-and-personal look at 64 prospects as they went through drills, tests and scrimmages.
While just one of the prospects—Teuvo Teravainen—is expected to have a chance to compete for a roster spot in training camp, the Blackhawks like the young talent that they have assembled, and some of the players may have a chance to call the United Center home in the years to come.
Here's a look at the top five performers in the camp.
1. Teuvo Teravainen, Forward
Teuvo Teravainen is the future star of the Blackhawks' Generation Next.
He had a trial run toward the end of the regular season when Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were both out due to injury. While Teravainen was able to show his speed and quickness, his lack of size, strength and assertiveness were obvious shortcomings.
At 5'11" and 169 pounds, Teravainen understands that he needs to get stronger. He appears to have worked on that prior to attending the team's prospect camp, which showed in his performance.
Quenneville was impressed with what he saw from Teravainen and told CSN Chicago's Tracey Myers that the 19-year-old Finnish prospect was at his best on the final day of the camp:
You get to see him play in a game situation, you see his abilities jump out. I thought he had a special day. Over the course of the week, you can see his skills. When you put a puck and you’re playing for real, you see his vision, anticipation and how he’s creating with the puck. And his anticipation offensively is excellent.
He was clearly the best performer in the camp.
2. Nick Schmaltz, Forward
Nick Schmaltz was the Blackhawks' first-round pick last month, and while he may not have the skill level of Teravainen, he is a talented player who is at home in the offensive zone.
Schmaltz, 18, has quite a long way to go before he can legitimately compete for a spot on the Blackhawks. However, he appeared to fit in quite well with the other prospects when it came to playing at top speed.
Schmaltz told Seth Gruen of the Chicago Sun-Times that the faster the pace of the practice, scrimmage or game, the better it is for him.
“That helps my game as well because when you’re playing fast, you can make plays and a lot of odd-man rushes,” he said. “I like playing fast, and it helps me raise my game.”
The Madison, Wisconsin native also has quick hands and displayed the ability to create plays for himself and his linemates during the prospect camp.
Schmaltz will play at the University of North Dakota during the upcoming season.
3. John Hayden, Forward
John Hayden may not be among the game's elite prospects when it comes to pure talent, but his game has developed in the one-year-plus since the Blackhawks selected him in the third round of the 2013 draft.
Hayden had a solid all-around camp, and his was one of the first names mentioned by GM Stan Bowman (2:23 mark of this CSN Chicago video) when he met the media after its conclusion. The Blackhawks love Hayden's size, strength and willingness to go to the dirty areas of the ice and do what he has to in order to make plays.
Hayden is 6'3" and 210 pounds, and he packs a wallop when he goes into the corners. Hayden will enter his sophomore year at Yale as a college player.
Hayden scored four goals in three scrimmage games during the prospect camp, according to ESPN Chicago's Scott Powers. That had to be a surprise to Blackhawks officials, because Hayden scored just six goals in 33 games at Yale last season.
4. Michael Paliotta, Defenseman
Michael Paliotta has been to several of the Blackhawks' prospect camps, which showed in his performance. He looked like a veteran who knows what was expected of him.
Paliotta, 21, has size and strength at 6'3" and 201 pounds and is also a solid skater. While he is primarily a shutdown defenseman, he scored five goals and 27 points in 38 games at the University of Vermont last season. He showed off a big shot from the blue line during the camp.
Paliotta will return to the Catamounts this season and serve as the team's captain.
5. Anthony Louis, Forward
Louis will be a long shot to make the Blackhawks in the future, but only because of his size.
At 5'7" and 150 pounds, it's difficult to see him making a long-term contribution, but he had an impressive camp and looked good skating at left wing on a line with Nick Schmaltz and John Hayden.
Louis is quite agile and he doesn't need much space or a big opening to create a scoring opportunity or set up one of his teammates.
Louis scored 12 goals and 13 assists while playing for Miami (Ohio) last year and is going back to the Redhawks for his sophomore season in the fall. He will also be trying out for the U.S. World Junior team at Lake Placid later this summer.
Hayden and Schmaltz will also be trying out for that team, according to Bowman (2:45 mark of video).