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Sports Saturday

Ranking the Blackhawks’ top 10 prospects entering the 2021 season

Lukas Reichel joins the list at No. 2, but two forwards ranked directly after him likely will become NHL regulars this coming season.

Philipp Kurashev could become an NHL regular this coming season.
AP Photo/Winslow Townson

The Blackhawks’ prospect pool has developed into one of the deeper groups in the league over recent years.

And with the team now committing to youth at the NHL level more than ever, the quality of that pool now seems more important than ever.

These rankings update last year’s midseason rankings, with 2020 draft picks and signings added in. The order is determined partially by NHL readiness and partially by upside.

No. 1: Ian Mitchell, defenseman, age 21

Previous Ranking: No. 1

Projected 2021 team: Blackhawks

Mitchell easily topped the list at midseason, and he easily tops it again now.

The only change is that he’s since signed his entry-level contract and has been penciled in as — at long last — a top-four defenseman for the Hawks this coming season, to great fanfare.

No. 2: Lukas Reichel, wing, age 18

Previous Ranking: N/A

Projected 2021 team: Eisbaren Berlin (Germany)

The Hawks’ 17th overall pick in this coming draft is two or three years away from NHL readiness, but his extremely high potential pushes him to No. 2 in his rankings debut.

Reichel’s hockey intelligence and two-way reliability stand out as the biggest positives in his game.

No. 3: Philipp Kurashev, center, age 21

Previous Ranking: No. 2

Projected 2021 team: Blackhawks

Kurashev hasn’t gotten a lot of attention nationally yet, but he displays all the tools to become a top-nine playmaker in the NHL soon.

His offensive skills are crafty at worst and dazzling at best. He’s excelled on loan in the Swiss league this fall.

No. 4: Brandon Hagel, wing, age 22

Previous Ranking: No. 4

Projected 2021 team: Blackhawks

While Hagel will never be a star, but tireless work ethic has made him a favorite of the Hawks’ front office. He led Rockford in scoring last season.

“He’s got that motor and that engine that we’re trying to get everybody to play with,” general manager Stan Bowman said recently.

No. 5: Evan Barratt, center, age 21

Previous Ranking: No. 7

Projected 2021 team: Rockford (AHL)

Barratt will make the jump from Penn State to the AHL after signing his entry-level contract in the spring. His skating is a weakness, but his vision, creativity and soft hands more than make up for it.

No. 6: Wyatt Kalynuk, defenseman, age 23

Previous Ranking: N/A

Projected 2021 team: Blackhawks

Kalynuk was a fantastic skater and leader at Wisconsin, and he’ll be a strong contender for one of the NHL jobs available in training camp.

No. 7: Nicolas Beaudin, defenseman, age 21

Previous Ranking: No. 3

Projected 2021 team: Rockford (AHL)

Beaudin had an up-and-down rookie year in the AHL, not entirely living up to expectations as a former first-round selection, but he improved as it went on and made his NHL debut in the March 12 “coronavirus game.”

No. 8: Lucas Carlsson, defenseman, age 23

Previous Ranking: Excluded

Projected 2021 team: Blackhawks

Carlsson flew under the radar for over a year in Rockford before emerging as a reliable NHL fill-in option in February. He now projects as a reliable second- or third-pairing guy.

No. 9: Michal Teply, wing, age 19

Previous Ranking: No. 5

Projected 2021 team: Rockford (AHL)

Teply’s stock skyrocketed in 2019-20 as he used his 6-foot-3 frame to score 63 points in 53 games with the Winnipeg Ice of the WHL. He’s on loan to a Czech team now, and could stay in the Czech Republic, return to Winnipeg or be assigned to Rockford in 2021.

No. 10: Alec Regula, defenseman, age 20

Previous Ranking: Outside top 10

Projected 2021 team: Rockford (AHL)

The trade return for Brendan Perlini last November, Regula played so well in July training camp that he was brought to the bubble with the Hawks. The sample size is small, but Regula looks like a steal so far.

Other prospects to watch: Alex Vlasic (D, 19); MacKenzie Entwistle (W, 21); Antti Saarela (C, 19); Drew Commesso (G, 18)