For a rare change of pace, the Chicago Blackhawks prospect camp was dominated by the team’s defensive prospects, which included several big names including 2018 first-round pick Adam Boqvist. The Athletic’s Scott Powers (subscription required), who posts his 20 takeaways from development camp, writes the most important fact is that of all their blueline talent, four of those players have the potential to develop into top-four talent, including Boqvist, 2017 first-rounder Henri Jokiharju. 2018 first-rounder Nicolas Beaudin and 2017 second-rounder Ian Mitchell.
That’s a big improvement for a club that hasn’t produced a top-four defenseman since they drafted Niklas Hjalmarsson back in 2005. The team has had multiple failures when drafting defenseman in the first two rounds since then or have traded them in deals to improve their NHL club instead, including Simon Danis-Pepin (2nd-2006), Akim Aliu (2nd-2007), Dylan Olsen (1st-2009), Justin Holl (2nd-2010), Stephen Johns (2nd-2010), Adam Clendening (2nd-2011), Dillon Fournier (2nd-2012) and Carl Dahlstrom (2nd-2013).
- NHL.com’s Tracey Myers writes that Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews hit the ice for the second time this offseason last week and said he is working on little parts of his game to improve after a slightly down season last year that saw the Blackhawks miss the playoffs. While his 20 goals and 52 points were solid, his progression has shrunk in each of the last two seasons. “I think the biggest thing is just feeling good and getting back to feeling strong and fast,” Toews said. “As I’ve mentioned a few times, it’s just getting rid of old injuries and just feeling healthy again. I’m kind of taking advantage to work in that area.”
- In a mailbag series, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeff Gordon writes that top prospect Jordan Kyrou, who has finished up his junior career, will have a tough time earning a spot in the St. Louis Blues’ rotation next season after the team went out and acquired David Perron, Tyler Bozak, Patrick Maroon as well as the potential return of Robby Fabbri from injury. With the exception of an amazing training camp, Kyrou is likely to start the season with the team’s AHL affiliate. Kyrou, who posted 39 goals and 109 points with the OHL’s Sarnia Sting last season, should be ready contribute soon as injuries at some point will likely allow the team to give Kyrou some time with the NHL club.
- Rick Sadowski of NHL.com writes that Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar believes he needs more time in college before he is ready to step into the NHL. Makar, the Avalanche’s 2017 first-round pick (fourth overall), struggled out of the gate at the University of Massachussetts – Amherst, but started to pick it up in the second half of the season and improved even more after a stint at the World Junior Championship. “I had very high expectations going into my first NCAA season,” said Makar. “I’m very tough on myself. I think I’m my biggest critic. I want to work on my consistency. I struggled with that a little bit last year.”