The Dynasty is over. Management has made it clear they have declared the franchise in a rebuild and the timing couldn’t be better with the top talent available in the 2023 draft class.
Remarkably over the past 20 years, the Hawks have only not had a first-round pick in two drafts. That and the fact that they had three first-round selections in the 2022 draft, the Hawks are not starting from scratch.
The teardown is not likely over yet as the Patrick Kane trade mill is buzzing. Look for the Hawks to try to trade recently signed free agents Max Domi and Andreas Athanasiou as rental players at or near the trade deadline to a contender for more draft picks or prospects.
With the decent prospect pool they already own, and the expected future draft gains to come, the Hawks rebuild may be over before too much pain is endured.
1. Frank Nazar, C – University of Michigan (NCAA)
Drafted: 2022 round one 13h overall by Chicago Blackhawks
Nazar was on track to becoming an elite NHL prospect and the Hawks believe they have a future star on the horizon. Nazar had an outstanding draft season on a loaded US National team scoring 70 points in 56 games. He was also a standout for USA at the U18, leading the US to the Silver Medal with nine points in six games.
Set to have a monster freshman season with the Wolverines with fellow freshman Adam Fantilli, a potential future Hawks linemate, his season was derailed by an injury that will require surgery and may cost him his entire D+1 season. With a lost key season of development expect Nazar to return to the NCAA next year and possibly sign with the Hawks at the end of his 2023-24 college season.
2. Lukas Reichel, LW/RW – Rockford IceHogs (AHL)
Drafted: 2020 round one 17th overall by Chicago Blackhawks
Reichel made the move from Germany to North America last year and kicked down the front door. As an AHL rookie, he racked up 21 goals and 57 points in 56 games. His play warranted an NHL recall and he stuck for 11 games posting one point. Reichel finished the year off in the World Championships with Germany and he looked great there with five points in four games.
Reichel has started the year back in Rockford and is off to a hot start with 11 points through nine games. He could be back in the NHL before the year ends, but if he makes it full-time next year, he could possibly be a Calder candidate.
3. Kevin Korchinski, LD – Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
Drafted: 2022 round one seventh overall by Chicago Blackhawks
The Hawks first selection in the 2022 draft was the offensive defenseman from the WHL. Korchinski rose up in the draft rankings from a fringe first-rounder at the start of the season to inside the top ten. He was a point-per-game player in his draft year and has burst out of the gate in his D+1 tour in the WHL to the tune of 18 points in 11 games.
There is no question that Korchinski is an elite player at the junior level, and he is highly talented. The question surrounding his game that some scouts have is, can he clean up his defensive zone play and reads?
4. Drew Commesso, G – Boston University (NCAA)
Drafted: 2020 round two 46th overall by Chicago Blackhawks
Commesso had a great season in 2021-22 posting a 13-11-3 record with the Terriers. His play earned him a roster spot with USA at the Olympics and while he only played in two games, he won both and posted a shutout.
Back with the Terriers for his junior season, he is an Assistant Captain, but has been injured for some of the start of the season. Commesso is the future in goal for Chicago and will likely join the pro ranks at the conclusion of the Terriers season.
5. Arvid Soderblom, G – Rockford IceHogs (AHL)
Drafted: Signed as a free agent in 2021 by Chicago Blackhawks
After a breakout season in the SHL where he started 22 games posting a 13-8-0 record with Skelleftea the Hawks added Soderblom to their prospect pool as a free agent and brought him to North America for the 2021-22 season. As a rookie in the AHL he rocked a 21-15-2 record and was recalled to the NHL for a cup of coffee.
Soderblom will get more NHL time as Petr Mrazek is currently injured. Commesso may be penciled in as a future starter in the NHL, but big Soderblom is getting an audition now, and don’t be surprised if he makes an impression.
6. Ethan Del Mastro, LD – Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
Drafted: 2021 round four 105th overall by Chicago Blackhawks
I think Del Mastro may have been a pandemic casualty as he did not play in his draft year. His rookie season in the OHL was less than spectacular with seven points in 57 games. But the Hawks picked him in round four and were rewarded. His D+1 season in the OHL he scored 48 points in 68 games along with 91 PIM’s and a plus -34 as the Captain of the Steelheads.
This will be his final year and the big man should challenge for the league lead in defense scoring. He has size, mobility, strength, plays two-ways and has leadership qualities. He may not develop into a number one NHL defenseman, but he has big minute, top-four all situation potential and upside.
7. Sam Rinzel, RD – Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL)
Drafted: 2022 round one 25th overall by Chicago Blackhawks
The Hawks may have reached selecting Rinzel out of high school with their third selection in the first round. Then again, the 6-4 fleet-footed and offensive defenseman may develop into more boom than bust. Rinzel will be a long-term project as he has returned to the USHL for his D+1 season and is committed to play in the NCAA with the University of Minnesota.
Rinzel should have a very offensively productive season in the USHL, he will need to develop his defensive game when he plays for the Golden Gophers and then there will likely be some pro seasoning in the AHL before he finds his way to the NHL.
8. Alec Regula, RD – Rockford IceHogs (AHL)
Drafted: 2018 round three 67th overall by Chicago Blackhawks
The big right-shot defender has some intriguing upside with his size and offensive potential. Regula has two seasons of pro-development under his belt, including 15 games in the NHL last year where he scored his first career NHL goal.
Regula uses his size well to defend in his own zone and is effective at transitioning or rushing the puck offensively. He is not the fleetest of foot and at times struggles with the pace of the NHL level. Still only 22 years old he has some time to hone his game and work his way into a regular NHL job.
9. Wyatt Kaiser, LD – University of Minnesota-Duluth (NCAA)
Drafted: 2020 round three 81st overall by Chicago Blackhawks
Playing in his junior season with the Bulldogs, Kaiser has developed into a big-minute, defensive defenseman. Kaiser has added strength and could still show some gains in that area to be as effective at the pro level. His offensive game is good but needs to improve to play bigger minutes at the NHL level. Look for Kaiser to be signed by the Hawks after his college season.
10. Paul Ludwinski, C – Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
Drafted: 2022 round two 39th overall by Chicago Blackhawks
The Frontenacs first-round selection (5th overall) in the 2020 OHL draft did not play in what would have been his rookie season due to the pandemic. He finally played in his NHL draft year on a loaded Kingston team in an insulated role as the third center. By the end of the season, he had found his footing in the league and was a force for Kingston in the playoffs. Now as the first-line center back in Kingston, Ludwinski will be given the opportunity to play top minutes.
He has a motor that never quits, plays a solid defensive game, is strong on draws, and can be physical. His offensive game is about to flourish and at this time next year, he will be ranked higher on this list.
Colton Dach – The younger brother of Kirby, plays a similar style with less offensive upside.
Jakub Galvas – An offensive defenseman had a good debut in AHL and earned an NHL call-up.
Ryan Greene – 2022 second-round pick off to a hot start with Boston U.
Samuel Savoie – Limited offense but plays a rugged game and hits everything.
Landon Slaggert – See Savoie.
Alex Vlasic – 6-6 defensive defenseman signed after the Terriers season ended and played 15 NHL games. Now getting some AHL seasoning, he could be a big minute, physical stay-at-home bottom-six player for the Hawks.