Chicago Blackhawks' Most Underrated Prospect at Each Position

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistJanuary 22, 2014

Chicago Blackhawks' Most Underrated Prospect at Each Position

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    Kent Simpson
    Kent SimpsonGraig Abel/Getty Images

    There's very little for Chicago Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz to complain about when he sits in on organizational meetings with general manager Stan Bowman.

    The Blackhawks are a model franchise. The defending Stanley Cup champions are in a strong position to contend for their third league championship in the last five seasons, as the club has a strong mix of superstars (Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa) along with role players (Andrew Shaw, Brandon Saad, Johnny Oduya and Niklas Hjalmarsson) who thrive in pressure situations.

    But it doesn't stop there. The Blackhawks have a well-stocked minor league system that is loaded with solid prospects. The underrated heroes are the excellent scouts who have found these talented players.

    In this piece, we look at the most underrated prospect at each position.

    Don't look for future stars like center Teuvo Teravainen and right wing Ryan Hartman, the Blackhawks' first-round picks in each of the last two seasons, respectively.

    Thanks to Hockey's Future for providing scouting reports on several of these prospects.

Left Wing Garret Ross

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    Team: Rockford IceHogs

    Age: 21

    Height: 6'0"

    Weight: 180 pounds

    Overview: Garret Ross is not a potential superstar, but he has a future with the Chicago Blackhawks because he is a tough, hard-nosed player who will do anything he can to get under his opponents' skin and help his team win.

    Ross is a mucker and a grinder, but he has also scored 11 goals and nine assists in 41 games with the IceHogs. He will go into the corners and is willing to battle hard for the puck, and if he has to eat an elbow to get possession, he will do it. He has a style that is reminiscent of current Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw. 

    Ross has a chance to be a bottom-six forward with the Blackhawks in the foreseeable future.

Center Alex Broadhurst

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    Team: Rockford Ice Hogs

    Age: 20

    Height: 5'11"

    Weight: 193 pounds

    Overview: Alex Broadhurst is not in the top rank of Chicago Blackhawks prospects, but he has a chance to develop into a productive player because he is one of the most skilled puck-handlers within the organization. Broadhurst knows how to buy time with his puck-handling and set up his teammates with accurate passes.

    Broadhurst has scored seven goals and 14 assists in 42 games with the IceHogs. He has a surprising wrist shot and is not intimidated by the higher-profile prospects that he plays with and against. Broadhurst plays with confidence, and if he can improve his defensive skills and physical strength, he will have a chance to climb in the organizaiton.

Right Wing Mark McNeill

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    Claus Andersen/Getty Images

    Team: Rockford Ice Hogs

    Age: 20

    Height: 6'2"

    Weight: 218 pounds

    Overview: Mark McNeill has a chance to be a solid NHL power forward in the foreseeable future. McNeill is a versatile player who can also play center. His strength is his ability to go into the corner, win the battle and come away with the puck.

    McNeill has scored 11 goals and 10 assists in 43 games with the IceHogs. While he was hotter in the early part of the season than he has been in recent weeks, McNeill uses his size and instincts to create space for himself in the prime scoring areas.

    If he can cash in just a bit more, he could have an NHL future with the Blackhawks or another team that is willing to trade for him.

Defenseman Adam Clendening

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Team: Rockford IceHogs

    Age: 21

    Height: 5'11"

    Weight: 187 pounds

    Overview: Adam Clendening is an offensive-minded defenseman who skates well, can move the puck and knows how to join the attack. He is leading the IceHogs in scoring with five goals and 27 assists. 

    If Clendening was with a different organization, he could be playing in the NHL by now. However, it's going to be hard for him to get anything more than an emergency call-up by the Blackhawks in the foreseeable future because they have so many talented defensemen.

    Still, blueliners who have impressive offensive skills usually get their opportunity at one point or another. Look for Clendening  to get his shot within a year.

Defenseman Klas Dahlbeck

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    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    Team: Rockford IceHogs

    Age: 22

    Height: 6'1"

    Weight: 194 pounds

    Overview: Klas Dahlbeck is one of the most improved players in the Chicago Blackhawks organization, and his increased confidence has turned him into a viable threat on the blue line. Dahlbeck has a hard shot that he gets away quickly, and he has scored eight goals and added 15 assists in 42 games this season.

    Dahlbeck has excellent awareness on the ice, and he understands when he can join the attack and when he needs to stay in his own zone. 

    Prior to this season, Dahlbeck was seen as an ordinary prospect who was just a long shot when it came to moving up and playing in the NHL. While it's not a guarantee that he will get his chance, it now seems reasonable that the opportunity will come with the Blackhawks or another NHL team.

Goalie Kent Simpson

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    Bill Smith/Getty Images

    Team: Rockford IceHogs

    Age: 21

    Height: 6'3"

    Weight: 209 pounds

    Overview: Kent Simpson got an emergency call-up from the Blackhawks earlier this season, but he doesn't figure to get a legitimate chance to play in the NHL for another couple of years.

    He is a big goalie who can cover most of the net, yet he is also quite athletic. His ability to move quickly in the crease is impressive, and he needs to become just a bit more consistent to satisfy the Blackhawks.

    Simpson has a 3.39 goals-against average and an .897 save percentage while compiling a 7-11-0 record for a very ordinary Rockford team.


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