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September 4, 2012
Top 10 Prospects
Chicago Blackhawks

by Corey Pronman

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Full list of NHL Organizational Rankings

Chicago Blackhawks Top 10 Prospects

1. Teuvo Teravainen, Left Wing
2. Brandon Saad, Left Wing
3. Brandon Pirri, Center
4. Mark McNeill, Center
5. Jeremy Morin, Right Wing
6. Adam Clendening, Defense
7. Phillip Danault, Left Wing
8. Kevin Hayes, Left Wing
9. Dillon Fournier, Defense
10. Kyle Beach, Left Wing

Organizational Ranking: 6th

System Overview: Chicago has formed an impressive system through several picks that could produce tremendous value in Teuvo Teravainen and Brandon Saad to go along with fine talent down the pipeline. After their top-five prospects, all of which are very high quality, Chicago still has talent but the rest of their top prospects tend to be projects with a lot of upside. The system has very good depth with upwards of 20-25 prospects with at least a chance to be an NHLer.

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1. Teuvo Teravainen, Left Wing
2010-11 Ranking: N/A
Date of birth: 09/11/1994
Age: 18
Height: 5'11''
Weight: 165
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 40 GP, 11 G, 18 P, 13:40 ATOI (Jokerit-SM-Liiga)
Acquired: First round, 18th overall in 2012 by Chicago

The Good: Teravainen is a simply dazzling offensive talent who can beat a defense in many ways. He's a high-end puck-handler and passer who regularly makes highlight reel plays, but his vision and patience are even more impressive. Teravainen can make plays through tight spaces and make quick plays but also has the ability to slow the game down and create from the perimeter. He's also an above-average to plus skater who has a solid one-timer. He can play center and wing effectively, doing the former frequently in recent viewings, and he plays fine defense.

The Bad: Teravainen's size hurts him and he projects as a fringe physical player overall. Recently, some scouts have questioned his consistency, although I don't think it's really an issue. He needs to bulk up a ton.

Projection: He could be a top line forward.

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2. Brandon Saad, Left Wing
2010-11 Ranking: 9th
Date of birth: 10/27/1992
Age: 19
Height: 6'2''
Weight: 206
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 44 GP, 34 G, 76 P (Saginaw-OHL)
Acquired: Second round, 43rd overall in 2011 by Chicago

The Good: Saad had a rebound season and a half, considering that he was once touted as a top-10 prospect; he stumbled in his draft season and regained his form this season. He's an above-average all-around player who can skate, handle the puck, think, and shoot like a pro. His best tool is his hockey sense, which one NHL source describes as "tremendous", as he's a very creative player who can set up his teammates. Aside from making nice plays with the puck, he can also play a good direct game with his speed and power game protecting the puck. He's NHL ready and may even be ready for significant minutes. He defends fine and was a real shorthanded threat this season.

The Bad: Historically, Saad's main knock has been his consistency, as some scouts say he can disappear for stretches at times. As a nitpick, he could stand to be slightly more physical.

Projection: Saad could be a below-average top line winger.

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3. Brandon Pirri, Center
2010-11 Ranking: 4th
Date of birth: 10/27/1992
Age: 21
Height: 6'0''
Weight: 180
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 66 GP, 23 G, 56 P (Rockford-AHL)
Acquired: Second round, 59th overall in 2009 by Chicago

The Good: Pirri had a great second pro season, leading his AHL team in scoring and getting over three shots on goal per game. He's a top-end puck-handler with terrific hand-eye coordination and can really excel as an individual creator and as a playmaker. His offensive hockey sense is plus as he's creative, has great vision, makes good reads off the puck, and his decisions are pretty quick. Pirri's physical game was better this year as well.

The Bad: Pirri's skating is below-average, and it's his main weakness going forward. He got stronger this season, but his body is still a little bit wiry.

Projection: He could be a very good second line center.

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4. Mark McNeill, Center
2010-11 Ranking: 3rd
Date of birth: 02/22/1993
Age: 19
Height: 6'2''
Weight: 210
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 69 GP, 31 G, 71 P (Prince Albert-WHL)
Acquired: First round, 18th overall in 2011 by Chicago

The Good: "He's the whole package" said one scout when describing McNeill—he's a great do it all type of player. McNeill is interesting because different scouts will praise him for different things, with one lauding him for his power game, and another for his puck possession skills, and another for his defense. McNeill is a solid to above-average skater, puck-handler, passer, shooter, and physical player who plays well in his own end.

The Bad: It's hard to pinpoint a real weakness in McNeill's game. That said, given the glowing scouting reports I've heard and from what I've seen of him though, I'd expect a little more production.

Projection: He could be an above-average second line center.

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5. Jeremy Morin, Right Wing
2010-11 Ranking: 2nd
Date of birth: 04/16/1991
Age: 21
Height: 6'1''
Weight: 190
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 69 GP, 18 G, 40 P (Rockford-AHL)
Acquired: Second round, 45th overall in 2009 by Chicago

The Good: Morin had a slow start to his season after missing a lot of time the previous season, but started to look like the old Morin with a great second half. He's a competitive power forward with above-average hands and good off-the-puck hockey sense. Morin is a goal-scorer with a great shot who NHL sources regularly praise for his finishing skills. He has a desirable work ethic as he will drive the net and wins a fair amount of battles along the wall.

The Bad: Morin's skating has improved a lot since his junior days, but I would still describe that aspect as slightly below-average. The biggest thing from him to work on now is staying healthy and playing at a high level for a long stretch of time.

Projection: He could be a second line winger, maybe even an above-average one.

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6. Adam Clendening, Defense
2010-11 Ranking: Unranked
Date of birth: 10/26/1992
Age: 20
Height: 6'0''
Weight: 195
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 38 GP, 4 G, 33 P (Boston University-Hockey East)
Acquired: Second round, 36th overall in 2011 by Chicago

The Good: Clendening has very impressive offensive potential as he will flash elite offensive upside from the blue line with well above-average puck skills and puck-moving instincts. He can make wow-caliber plays and he's the rare defender who has the skills to create a scoring chance out of nothing. Clendening skates at a decent level, too, with good mobility. He has all the tools except…

The Bad: He is the kind of player who shoots himself in the foot several times a game. Clendending's hockey sense can shine at times and look really bad at other times in terms of his overly risky style and consistent turnovers. He's a bit of a liability in his own end.

Projection: He has top-end offensive upside and top four potential, but is a project.

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7. Phillip Danault, Left Wing
2010-11 Ranking: Unranked
Date of birth: 02/24/1993
Age: 19
Height: 6'0''
Weight: 187
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 62 GP, 18 G, 71 P (Victoriaville-QMJHL)
Acquired: First round, 26th overall in 2011 by Chicago

The Good: Danault is a pretty good skater, showing above-average to plus ability in that regard. He generates a great burst out of his first few steps, and his skating is aided by his work ethic. He shows elite on-ice effort and gets regular praise from scouts for his compete level and energy. Danault is a pretty smart player as well. Some scouts even describe his hockey sense as plus as he makes good, quick reads and some nice passes. He's a very good defensive forward because of his sense, effort, and physical play.

The Bad: Danault doesn't have pro level puck skills and there are certainly question marks on him about how much offense he can truly generate as an NHLer. He needs to bulk up quite a bit, too.

Projection: He could be an above-average league regular who's leaned on as a tough defensive minutes player.

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8. Kevin Hayes, Left Wing
2010-11 Ranking: 10th
Date of birth: 05/08/1992
Age: 20
Height: 6'3''
Weight: 205
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 44 GP, 7 G, 28 P (Boston College-Hockey East)
Acquired: First round, 24th overall in 2010 by Chicago

The Good: Hayes is a pretty toolsy player. Aside from being 6'3'', he's an above-average skater with notably above-average possession skills—he's a very coordinated puck-handler with impressive vision. When he's on his game, Hayes simply makes plays. For a player his size, Hayes' offensive skills make him a very intriguing prospect.

The Bad: Hayes' main concern is his consistency. His game to game effort wavers and he doesn't play with a high level of energy. He could be a little more physical as well.

Projection: He could be a quality top-six forward, but that projection has a fair amount of uncertainty.

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9. Dillon Fournier, Defense
2010-11 Ranking: N/A
Date of birth: 06/15/1994
Age: 18
Height: 6'2''
Weight: 173
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 52 GP, 9 G, 38 P (Rouyn-Noranda-QMJHL)
Acquired: Second round, 48th overall in 2012 by Chicago

The Good: Fournier is a good skater with nice overall mobility and a good jump in his first few steps. He looks a little gangly when holding onto the puck but still exhibits soft hands and good one-touch ability, and he moves the puck around effectively and efficiently. His offensive upside is impressive and with some scouts describing it as potentially top-end.

The Bad: Fournier likes to do things offensively, but he will make some over risky decisions, be it when rushing up or doing too much with the puck. He is able to be somewhat effective defensively with his mobility and awareness, but physically, he needs to bulk up a bit to show a decent physical game.

Projection: He could be a top-four defender but is a long way from being that.

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10. Kyle Beach, Left Wing
2010-11 Ranking: 5th
Date of birth: 01/13/1990
Age: 22
Height: 6'3''
Weight: 210
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 19 GP, 5 G, 10 P (Rockford-AHL)
Acquired: First round, 11th overall in 2008 by Chicago

The Good: Beach is a very physical forward who projects as a top of the line physical player. He's a big and strong and plays with a heck of an edge and typically irritates opponents. He also has a skill element to his game—good hands and a fantastic shot that he can unload on and score from way out.

The Bad: Beach's skating isn't as bad as when he was in major junior but I still don't see him skating with the average NHLer. His pro career has been a struggle: he wasn't really effective in his first season and was good out of the gates this season until a shoulder injury knocked him out for months.

Projection: He has top-six potential, but his chances of being that are quickly fading.

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The Next Five

11. Stephen Johns, Defense: Johns is a very physical player with a decent talent level. I've never been a fan of his hockey sense, but that area of his game has shown steady and arguably significant improvement.

12. Ben Smith, Left Wing: Smith is a hard worker with a little skill and good defensive value but he needs to improve his skating. He suffered from a few injuries this year.

13. Joe Lavin, Defense: Lavin played pretty well in the AHL this season. He's got nice size, very impressive mobility, good defensive awareness, and a little offensive touch.

14. Klas Dahlbeck, Defense: Dahlbeck is an effective defensive defender who is strong on his checks and is an impressive skater.

15. Alex Broadhurst, Center: Broadhurst is a skilled player with a ton of speed but is quite a number of years away and needs to bulk up a ton.

The Sleeper: Vincent Hinostroza, Center

Hinostroza is a small guy, but has top-end speed, good hands, vision, and a great work ethic. It's easy to envision his freshman season at Notre Dame getting off to a good start.

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Chicago Blackhawks Organizational Top 10

Players 22 or under as of 09/15/2012 or still considered a prospect as defined here.

1. Teuvo Teravainen, Left Wing
2. Brandon Saad, Left Wing
3. Nick Leddy, Defense
4. Marcus Kruger, Center
5.Brandon Pirri, Center
6. Mark McNeill, Center
7. Andrew Shaw, Center
8. Jeremy Morin, Right Wing
9. Adam Clendening, Defense
10. Phillip Danault, Left Wing

Leddy is a very skilled player with high-end puck-moving tools whose development has certainly been on the fast track these last few seasons. For his age, he's logged very heavy minutes and has held his own. He's still not a finished product and still needs to shore up defensively and with some of his decisions, but his upside is very desirable and he's shown at a young age that he can be a significant asset from the back-end. Kruger may not have the raw skill level of Pirri or McNeill, but he's not that far off. He has excellent hockey sense, he has skill, and he projects as a quality two-way player. Even though he only played average competition, being able to stay above water possession-wise with an offensive zone start percentage of 44.5 is impressive. Shaw was one of the surprises of the season. He's got high-end hockey sense, a compete level along the same lines, and some skill. For a player who was just drafted in 2011, it's understandable that his strength level isn't there yet. Dylan Olsen and Jimmy Hayes were considered, but I'm not sold on them having the upside to be above-average regulars.

Corey Pronman is an author of Hockey Prospectus. You can contact Corey by clicking here or click here to see Corey's other articles.

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Top 10 Prospects (09/03)
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Top 10 Prospects (09/05)
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Top 10 Prospects (09/05)

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