As September closes in on us, teams will begin inviting their top prospects to training camp. Whether or not those prospects earn a roster spot, if there's even a spot to win, is another issue altogether
Here are the top 10 prospects in the Blackhawks organization heading into training camp.
**Nick Leddy is not included in these rankings. While he hasn't played a full season in the NHL, he has cemented a spot on the Hawks roster for Opening Night and figures to be a key figure in coach Joel Quenneville's rotation this season.
For the full list of the top 25 prospects in the Hawks system and bios on most of the players, click here.
WT: 195 lbs
Drafted: Third round (68th overall) in 2008
Of all the players in their first professional season in Rockford last year, Lalonde was probably the most consistent. He finished the season with 32 points (five goals, 27 assists) in 73 games while accumulating 76 penalty minutes.
He filled out his 6'1" frame to around 200 lbs., and was a force for Belleville Bulls of the WHL in 2009-10, scoring 56 points (13 goals, 43 assists) in 58 games before jumping to the AHL.
Lalonde is a smooth skater with very good hands and excellent vision on the ice. He can be used in all situations, but presents a perfect skill set to be a puck-moving quarterback on the power play. He will likely spend another year skating top minutes in Rockford, but isn’t far away from the NHL.
WT: 195 lbs
Drafted: Second round (36th overall) in 2011
After three seasons with the US development program, Clendening made the jump to Boston University and was outstanding. He posted five goals and 21 assists with 80 penalty minutes in 39 contests.
He was invited to the tryout camp for the US World Junior Championships team and was one of the most impressive defenseman. He made the first cut and could be a part of that roster. Clendening is smart with the puck and showed a good ability to clear the paint when needed.
WT: 210 lbs
Drafted: First round (18th overall) in 2011
McNeill is a big, physical forward that split his final season with Prince Albert between wing and center. He posted an impressive 81 points (32 goals, 49 assists) and 53 penalty minutes in 70 games.
At the Blackhawks summer prospect camp, he was impressive in drills but showed his age when the scrimmages started. He'll get time to develop at either center or wing and has a bright future in Chicago.
WT: 160 lbs
Drafted: Second round (59th overall) in 2009
Pirri was a surprise on the roster for the Blackhawks home opener in 2010 when Patrick Sharp was a late scratch. He signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Hawks on August 31, 2010 after one year at RPI.
He’s a smaller center, but he effectively pushes the puck up the ice and has a nose for the net. In 70 games in Rockford in his first professional season, Pirri scored 12 goals and added 31 assists in 70 games.
He’ll need to add some bulk to his frame, but Pirri’s play-making ability is good enough to make an impact at the NHL level.
WT: 201 lbs
Drafted: First round (24th overall) in 2010
The Blackhawks first-round pick in 2010, Kevin’s freshman season at Boston College was cut short when he tore his posterior cruciate ligament and missed five weeks. He still managed to score four goals with 10 assists in 31 games.
He has indicated that his preference is to play center, and will likely get time to develop at the position at BC for at least one more year while his big brother, Jimmy, plays in Rockford (and maybe Chicago). Kevin may ultimately be more talented than Jimmy, and will get time to fill out his big frame and mature into his ability.
WT: 175 lbs
Drafted: Fifth round (149th overall) in 2009
Bronze medal winner—2010 WJC
After a great prospect camp last summer, Krüger signed with Chicago. He honored the final year of his contract with Djurgardens of the SEL, and posted 35 points in 52 games. When his postseason ended in Sweden, he joined the Blackhawks for seven regular season and five playoff games, in which he was credited with one assist.
He’s a smooth skating center with soft hands and good vision. Krüger also plays with an edge, and isn’t scared to go into corners and initiate contact. He might get a chance ON the Hawks fourth line when the 2011-12 season begins, but would probably benefit from some time in Rockford.
Drafted: Second round (60th overall) in 2010
Johns is a beast who appeared to be bigger and stronger than any defenseman at the prospect camp. While size is an asset, being able to use it is a gift and Johns appears to have it all: he can handle the puck well, pass effectively, skates well and is a physical force on the ice.
He projects as a top-four defenseman in Chicago, potentially as Brent Seabrook’s heir in five years (though he should be in Chicago well before then).
In his freshman season at Notre Dame, Johns scored two goals with 11 assists and 98 penalty minutes in 44 games. He will return for at least one more season with the Fighting Irish, but his future looks very bright.
WT: 233 lbs
Jimmy completed his third year at Boston College with 33 points (21 goals, 12 assists) in 39 games. After signing his entry-level contract, Hayes skated in seven games with Rockford.
He added almost 25 lbs., and established himself as the premier forward at the organization’s prospect camp in July. While some might question certain players height and/or weight on a roster, the older Hayes brother is every bit of his listed frame. He showed all of the skills to be a top-six forward in Rockford, and could be one of the first forwards getting a call from Chicago if/when needed this season.
WT: 220 lbs
Drafted: First round (28th overall) in 2009
The Blackhawks first round pick (28th overall) in 2009, Olsen signed his entry-level deal after representing Canada in the World Junior Championships. In 42 games in Rockford, Olsen registered four assists and 10 penalty minutes.
His physical ability reminds of a young Dion Phaneuf, and his game matured a great deal after leaving the University of Minnesota-Duluth to turn pro. He’ll get a shot at playing top minutes in Rockford in 2011-12, and will attend his first professional training camp this fall. Like Jimmy Hayes, the roster doesn't lie about this kid's size, either.
WT: 180 lbs
Drafted: Second round (45th overall) by Atlanta in 2009
Morin made his NHL debut with the Blackhawks during the 2010-11 season, and made an impact in limited action; he scored two goals and added an assist in nine games. However, he was limited to 22 games in Rockford because of a number of injury issues. He still managed to score eight goals.
He was the centerpiece of the blockbuster trade that sent, among others, Dustin Byfuglien to Atlanta last summer. In his brief time with the Hawks, and from what he showed in Rockford, he could become a top-three forward at the next level.