Sunday, July 14, 2013

30 Teams in 30 Days: Chicago Blackhawks

The Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks are next on the list.

Garret Ross - Saginaw Spirit
Another big step forward this year for Ross. He was part of one of the strongest lines in the league this year when Eric Locke and Jimmy Lodge came together after the Vincent Trocheck deal. Before that, he was Trocheck's running mate. Whether it was with Trocheck or Lodge/Locke, Ross was a consistent contributor. He knows exactly what his role is on an offensive line. Retrieve the puck, battle along the boards, crash the net, and open up space for his linemates. And he does that incredibly well. His shot and puck carrying ability are also underrated, as he generates his share of his own chances by receiving passes in transition and taking defenseman wide right to the net. I'm not sure there was a more underrated player in the OHL this past year. I think he's got a bright future ahead of him as a 3rd line NHL'er. He does pretty much everything well and IMO is a very coachable player who excels in whatever role he's placed in. In Rockford next year, I'd imagine he'll probably start off on a lower line and work his way up. If he can put together a 15-15 year while contributing physically and on the PK, I think that'd be a successful first professional year.

Alex Broadhurst - London Knights
Sort of the unsung hero on the Knights this year. With so many other talented players on that roster, Broadhurst often fades into the background. But he's a terrific player. He's not big (pushing 6'0), but he works his butt off. Broadhurst is one of those guys with a non stop engine. In particular, this is what made him one of the stronger penalty killers in the league. He's a hawk for loose pucks. In the offensive end he's very elusive and has terrific agility; he stops, starts, and turns on a dime. Similar to Ross, he seemed to excel in any role the Hunter's asked of him this year and I think that bodes well for his professional future. One thing that I will say is that I'd like to see him develop more of a mean streak and play more physical. He's a high energy player who probably profiles best as a 3rd liner at the next level, so adding that physical element to his game would make him more valuable in that position. The Hawks have two options with Broadhurst. They can return him to the OHL for his overage year, or they can play him in Rockford of the AHL. It'll probably depend on how he performs in camp as I imagine the Hawks haven't quite decided what to do with him yet. If I was a betting man, I'd say he ends up back in London where he'll get another shot at a Memorial Cup (London is hosting) and could take on even more of a leadership role with the club.

Ryan Hartman - Plymouth Whalers
I really liked the Hartman selection by Chicago at the end of the first round. At the very least you're getting a guy with the potential to be one of the better 3rd line forwards in the game. There's little "bust" potential. But he's also got offensive upside that could see him end up on a scoring line should his development take the right path. He hits everything that moves. He's got underrated skill with the puck and is consistently able to take defenseman to the outside off the rush. He works hard in all three zones. He'll fit right into the Hawks' lineup in the future. Next year he'll head back to Plymouth where he'll assume the role as the team's new go to guy offensively. Plymouth's line-up will not be nearly as deep next year so they will rely heavily on Hartman to produce. It'll be interesting to see how he handles the increased pressure. A 70-75 point season is a reasonable expectation.