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Blackhawks midseason prospect rankings: Ian Mitchell tops list, Michal Teply rising quickly

With Kirby Dach, Adam Boqvist and Alex Nylander all graduated from the preseason rankings, this update checks in on a number of other, lesser-known Hawks prospects.

Michal Teply’s move to North America and appearance in the World Junior Championships has the 2019 fourth-round pick looking like a steal.
Michal Teply’s move to North America and appearance in the World Junior Championships has the 2019 fourth-round pick looking like a steal.
Victor Hilitski/For the Sun-Times

MONTREAL — Halfway through the 2019-20 season, the Hawks’ prospect pipeline continues to chug along.

Kirby Dach, Adam Boqvist and Alex Nylander have graduated from the preseason rankings, but other youngsters have moved up.

This list includes only players age 21 and under:

No. 1: Ian Mitchell, defenseman, age 20

Previous ranking: No. 3.

Stat line: 18 points in 22 games with University of Denver (NCAA).

The Hawks wish Mitchell had signed his NHL contract last summer instead of returning to Denver, but it likely won’t stunt his development. He’s one of the best defensemen in college hockey and the captain of a national championship contender.

No. 2: Philipp Kurashev, center, 20

Previous ranking: No. 5.

Stat line: 16 points in 29 games with Rockford (AHL).

Kurashev has two big things going for him: He’s a center, and he has the speed and creativity to develop into a top-six playmaker. He’s less NHL-ready than some, but he has higher upside.

“In the last couple of weeks I was playing, I really started to get in my flow . . . making faster decisions,” Kurashev said. “I feel like I’m more confident out there.”

No. 3: Nicolas Beaudin, defenseman, 20

Previous ranking: No. 6.

Stat line: 10 points in 35 games with Rockford (AHL).

Entering his rookie season in the AHL, Beaudin needed to improve his defensive skills before unleashing his offensive instincts.

For many undersized young defensemen, that process takes a full year or more. For Beaudin, thanks in part to his remarkable hockey intelligence, it took only a few months.

No. 4: Brandon Hagel, winger, 21

Previous ranking: No. 10.

Stat line: 21 points in 37 games for Rockford (AHL).

Thirteen of the 21 points are goals. Hagel has been so productive in Canadian juniors and the AHL that an NHL opportunity feels inevitable.

No. 5: Michal Teply, winger, 18

Previous ranking: Outside top 10.

Stat line: 35 points in 32 games for Winnipeg (WHL).

Teply has evolved shockingly quickly from an overlooked fourth-round pick in June to a top-five prospect in the Hawks’ system.

In the last half-year, he has moved to North America, become a point-per-game player in Canadian juniors and led the Czech Republic in scoring at the world junior championships. Teply would likely be a top-50 pick in a simulated redraft.

No. 6: Alex Vlasic, defenseman, 18

Previous ranking: No. 7.

Stat line: Three points in 19 games with Boston University (NCAA).

Vlasic — the Hawks’ second-round pick in 2019 — remains a long-term project.

No. 7: Evan Barratt, center, 20

Previous ranking: No. 9.

Stat line: 25 points in 22 games with Penn State (NCAA).

Barratt’s production remains sky-high in his third year with the Nittany Lions, though his lacking speed and acceleration will hinder his ability to translate that to pro hockey.

No. 8: MacKenzie Entwistle, winger, 20

Previous ranking: Outside top 10.

Stat line: 16 points in 32 games for Rockford (AHL).

The Hawks love how Entwistle has embraced his future as a reliable bottom-six grinder.

No. 9: Alexis Gravel, goaltender, 19

Previous ranking: No. 8.

Stat line: 9-12-2, .888 save percentage for Halifax (QMJHL).

It has been a disappointing season for Gravel, who looked excellent in Traverse City but has seen his save percentage in juniors plummet from .913 last season. He’s still the Hawks’ top prospect goalie.

No. 10: Antti Saarela, center, 18

Previous ranking: Outside top 10.

Stat line: Seven points in 23 games for Tampere (Finland).

Saarela’s production in the top Finnish league has stayed constant despite changing teams from last season. The Hawks traded his older brother, Aleksi, to the Panthers but retained Antti.