Top prospects for Chicago Blackhawks

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NHL.com is providing in-depth prospect analysis for each of its 31 teams from Nov. 16-Dec.16. Today, the top five prospects for the Chicago Blackhawks, according to NHL.com.

 

[Blackhawks 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Fantasy breakdown | Behind the Numbers]

 
1. Ian Mitchell, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 57 pick in 2017 NHL Draft

2019-20 season: University of Denver: 36 GP, 10-22-32

The 21-year-old was sixth among NCAA defensemen in scoring last season and scored three points (one goal, two assists) to help Canada win the 2019 Spengler Cup. Mitchell (5-foot-11, 173 pounds) agreed to a three-year, entry-level contract April 13 and could start the season in the NHL.

“We thought he was ready last year, but never any harm in an extra year of college,” Blackhawks assistant general manager Mark Eaton said. “He’s a great skater, hard worker and an energy guy. Probably more impressive are his off-ice traits, just the work ethic he has, his passion for the game, his coachability. He’s such a sponge that he’s able to take teaching feedback and immediately implement it into his game.”

Projected NHL arrival: This season

 

2. Kevin Lankinen, G

How acquired: Signed as free agent May 21, 2018

2019-20 season: Rockford (AHL): 21 GP, 8-10-2, 3.03 GAA, .909 SV%

Lankinen (6-2, 185) will compete with Malcolm Subban and Collin Delia for the starting and backup goalie spots in Chicago. The 25-year-old doesn’t have any NHL experience, but he was 7-1 with a 1.50 goals-against average and a .942 save percentage in eight games to help Finland win the 2019 IIHF World Championship.

“A lot with goaltending is the mental part of it, the confidence, the feeling of belonging, realizing that you’re where you’re supposed to be, and you can put teams on your back and win games single-handedly,” Eaton said. “He showed that with Finland last year. There are going to be great opportunities this year to see what he’s made of and see how far we can ride them.”

Projected NHL arrival: This season

Video: CHI@DET: Lankinen shuts the door on Rasmussen

 
3. Pius Suter, F

How acquired: Signed as free agent July 16, 2020

2019-20 season: ZSC (National League): 50 GP, 30-23-53

Suter (5-9, 176) was the most valuable player in Switzerland’s top professional league last season, after he led the National League in goals, assists and plus/minus (plus-23). The Blackhawks loaned the 24-year-old to GCK of the Swiss League, Switzerland’s second division, on Sept. 8, and he scored five points (two goals, three assists) in six games. Chicago re-assigned Suter to ZSC on Nov. 2 but he had not played for them yet.

“When we talk about getting grittier as a team, getting more high energy as a team, he’s one of those individual players who fits that mold,” Eaton said. “A potential third-line role where he can get in on forechecks, make things happen and bring energy to a line and to a team.”

Projected NHL arrival: This season

 

4. Philipp Kurashev, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 120 pick in 2018 NHL Draft

2019-20 season: Rockford (AHL): 36 GP, 7-12-19

The 21-year-old had some injuries last season but put up good numbers when healthy. Kurashev (6-0, 190) was loaned to HC Lugano of National League in Switzerland on Sept. 5 and has five assists in seven games.

“As a center he could make his wingers better, and that’s something you always want to see with centers,” Eaton said. “He’s one, too, that we expect to take some major strides this year, maybe get an opportunity to play for the Blackhawks. The rest is up to him.”

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

Video: CHI@BOS: Kurashev beats Rask on odd-man rush

 

5. Nicolas Beaudin, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 27 pick in 2018 NHL Draft

2019-20 season: Chicago: 1 GP, 0-0-0; Rockford (AHL): 59 GP, 3-12-15

The 21-year-old made his NHL debut against the San Jose Sharks on March 11, the day before the League paused the season due to concerns surrounding coronavirus. Eaton said it took time for Beaudin (5-11, 168) to adjust in his first season of professional hockey but improved as the season progressed.

“For him it was the realization that it’s not his job to create offense,” Eaton said. “That’s not what it’s all about, especially at the pro level as a defenseman. When he started to grasp that concept and kept the game simple — he’s a smart player, good skater, good puck-mover — he became more effective.”

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

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