The Hawks have arguably been the most successful franchise in the salary cap era and even were dubbed by many to be a dynasty. Their core of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Corey Crawford were all drafted and developed by Chicago between 2002 and 2007 beginning with Keith and ending with Kane.
The core of that dynasty is now very seasoned and while there is still some tread on the tire of these players it is time to transition to a new core. Hawks GM Stan Bowman has done a terrific job of accumulating a vast depth of prospects via draft, trade, and free agency.
While the team is a far cry from the dominance they so recently enjoyed, there is plenty of youth on the way looking to re-establish the Hawks as an elite team.
1. Kirby Dach C – Chicago Blackhawks (NHL)
Drafted: Third overall in the first round of the 2019 draft by Chicago
Currently playing in the NHL straight out of his draft year, Dach has been impressive with three points his first eight games. If he plays one more game – and it looks like he will – he will burn the first year of his entry-level contract.
Dach may yet be returned to the WHL or loaned to Team Canada for the World Junior but it is more likely he remains in the NHL where he is currently a regular on the third line.
Dach has the whole package of size, skill and while he is playing on the wing currently, he projects as the future franchise number one center.
2. Adam Boqvist, D – Rockford IceHogs (AHL)
Drafted: Eighth overall in the first round of the 2018 draft by Chicago
The offensive defenseman made a highly successful transition to North America after being drafted by the Hawks. Boqvist joined the London Knights in the OHL where he racked up 60 points in 54 games and played a key role for Sweden at the World Junior.
Now in his first pro season in North America, he started the season in the AHL where in six games he recorded his first goal before being recalled to the NHL. In his second game scored his first NHL goal.
The Hawks have several promising defense prospects but Boqvist looks to be the cream of the crop. Boqvist is a dominant offensive player and controls the game when he is on the ice and has the potential to be a number one defenseman in the near future.
3. Dominik Kubalik, LW – Chicago Blackhawks (NHL)
Drafted: 191st overall in the seventh round of the 2013 draft by Los Angeles
Originally drafted by the Kings, Kubalik had been developing in Europe the past several seasons playing in the Czech and Swiss leagues. After leading the Swiss league in scoring last year and then posting 12 points in 10 games at the World Championships, the Hawks were convinced he could be an impact player in the NHL and acquired his rights from the Kings for a fifth-round pick.
The early returns have proved to be very rewarding as Kubalik has six points in his first 13 NHL games. It is difficult to predict what the impact will be when players come over from Europe to the NHL but based on his performance at the World Championship competing against NHL players and early performance in the 2019-20 season, the Hawks look to have added a legit prospect for a steal with a fifth-round pick.
4. Alex Nylander, RW/LW – Chicago Blackhawks (NHL)
Drafted: Eighth overall in the first round of the 2016 draft by Buffalo Sabres
The Hawks paid a steep price to acquire what was beginning to look like a reclamation project when they traded Henri Jokiharju to Buffalo for Nylander. After his draft year where Nylander was a highly ranked prospect after dominating in the OHL – posting 75 points in 57 games with Mississauga – he made the jump to the AHL as an 18-year-old.
The AHL is a big cup and Nylander struggled in his first two pro seasons splitting time between the Sabres in the NHL and Rochester in the AHL. Buffalo lost patience with Nylander and given the Hawks depth of defensemen the trade worked for both sides.
Since his arrival in Chicago, he has played the entire season in the NHL and is in a top-six role, producing seven points in his first 12 games. This will be the last year he will be able to be considered a prospect as he looks to have found a home on the Hawks top-six.
5. Nicolas Beaudin, D – Rockford IceHogs (AHL)
Drafted: 27th overall in the first round of the 2018 draft by Chicago
Beaudin brings an attractive blend of skill, speed, and smarts. He is a highly offensive defenseman who posted over a point per game in the final two years of junior with Drummondville.
The knock on him is his size and lack of physical strength. Beaudin has turned pro and will need some time to add strength and adjust to the pro level of hockey. This will be a key development season for him in Rockford and if he can add some mass and shore up his defensive game, the lack of size should not pose a problem for him to be a top-pairing caliber player in a few years.
6. Dylan Sikura, RW/LW – Rockford IceHogs (AHL)
Drafted: 178th overall in the sixth round of the 2014 draft by Chicago
Every once in awhile teams need to find a hidden gem in the later rounds of the draft. That may have happened when the Blackhawks selected Sikura 178th overall. The former Northeastern Huskies star dominated the NCAA during his career and was a Hobey Baker finalist in his final season with 54 points in 35 games.
He has carried his offensive prowess over into pro hockey at the AHL level, but despite his skill and speed, he has yet to connect at the NHL level with only 11 assists in 38 career NHL games. Sikura has started the season off in the AHL where he has produced nine points in as many games and will build on his confidence while he awaits his next opportunity to break out at the NHL level.
7. Ian Mitchell, D – University of Denver (NCAA)
Drafted: 57th overall in the second round of the 2017 draft by Chicago
Another highly promising rearguard in the system, Mitchell has had two very strong seasons with Denver including a National Championship. He also represented Canada at the World Junior last year as well. Now in his Junior season, he is the Captain and should be a finalist for the Hobey Baker again.
This could be his final year in the NCAA as he should be ready to turn pro next year and spend some time in the AHL adjusting to the speed of pro hockey. With Boqvist, Beaudin, and Mitchell in the pipeline, the future of the Hawks defense looks to be in good hands.
8. Evan Barratt, C – Penn State (NCAA)
Drafted: 90th overall in the third round of the 2017 draft by Chicago
Barratt had a breakout performance in his sophomore season with Penn State and at times was leading the league in scoring. He finished with 43 points in 32 games and was named to Team USA for the World Junior.
He decided to return for his Junior season with the Nittany Lions who boast a strong veteran team and should compete for a championship. Look for Barratt to make the transition to pro after this season where he will try to carry over his offensive game at the next level. He is a player on the rise.
9. Michal Teply, LW/RW – Winnipeg Ice (WHL)
Drafted: 105th overall in the fourth round of the 2019 draft by Chicago
The Hawks may have picked a second-round talent in the fourth round as Teply fell on draft day. Ranked consistently between 46 and 85 by sources such as Bob McKenzie, hockeyprospect.com and The Hockey News. He fell in one draft but was the fourth overall pick in the CHL Import Draft a few days later.
Teply has made a smooth transition to North America already posting five goals and 13 points in his first 15 games to help lead the Ice out of the WHL basement as the team’s leading scorer. I am not sure why Teply fell slightly at the NHL draft, but he has size and skill and it looks like the Hawks will be the benefactor of selecting him. Teply is the real deal.
10. Kevin Lankinen, G – Rockford IceHogs
Drafted: Undrafted, signed as a free agent in 2018
The Hawks used free agency to potentially acquire their future franchise starting goalie. He has plenty of competition with Colin Delia, and Alexis Gravel but with both Robin Lehner and Corey Crawford set to become unrestricted free agents after this season there is an opportunity potentially on the horizon.
Last season he made his debut in North America posting a 2.5 GAA in 19 AHL games. His breakout performance came at the World Championship where he was the starting goalie for Finland and helped defeat Canada and Russia to lead Finland to the Gold Medal with a 1.5 GAA in eight games. He has been limited to three games to start his second season in the Hawks organization due to injury but Chicago is very optimistic the 24-year-old will continue to develop and play his way into the NHL next year.