Tuesday, July 12, 2011

2011 Blackhawks Prospect Camp Review

From July 7th to the 11th, the Blackhawks held their annual Prospect Camp at Johnny's Ice House West. They focused more on player development this year, resulting in more practices and only two days of scrimmaging. Here are some of the prospects that stood out.

The 20 year old Olsen was one of the better defensemen at camp. In all honesty though, he should have been, considering he played in 42 games in Rockford in 2011. Olsen's skating looked like it improved since the last IceHogs game in April. He seems smoother and more confident. Olsen, the Hawks' 1st round (28th overall) pick in the 2009 draft, looked a bit leaner but looked a little bit taller than he did in April. He was solid all camp and his passing looked like it improved a bit, even though it looked good in Rockford. Olsen dropped the gloves with Andrew Shaw in Monday's scrimmage, which was a first for him. He'll have more time to develop in Rockford next year, but he'll be a good defenseman on the Hawks' blue line in the future.

For his first prospect camp, Saad looked great. On the heels of being drafted 43rd overall in this year's draft, the 18 year old left winger showed he has good hockey sense. He was very sound positionally all camp. He has good hands and a good shot. He was always trying to be the first one to the puck. He's very solid on his skates and he didn't get knocked around much. He even threw the body around a bit. During the scrimmages, Saad was on a line with Mark McNeill and they played great together. It looked like they had been playing together for awhile, but they never had before until camp. The instant chemistry between the two is a good thing for the Hawks' future because that could make up part of a very good line for the Hawks down the road. As of right now, Saad is going to go back and play in the OHL for the Saginaw Spirit next year, and there's no need for the Hawks to rush him.

It was hard to not notice Hayes out on the ice. Not only is he 6'5", 235 pounds, but his play was very good. For such a big man, he's an excellent skater. He has a good shot and he also can throw the body around a bit. A great piece of his game is his ability to go to the front of the net and stay there. The Hawks definitely need a guy like that in the system. Hayes will be in Rockford for his first full year pro after spending three years at Boston College. He'll only improve and should be a very good player for the Hawks one day.  

A lot of eyes were on the Hawks' first round (18th overall) pick in this year's entry draft at camp. McNeill showed that he is a very smooth skater and when he skates, he's very good about keeping his head up. He's pretty good about finding open ice and open players to pass to because of that. His on-ice positioning is also great. His overall hockey sense seems to be very good. He'll have more time to develop in the WHL with the Prince Albert Raiders next season, and once again, there should not be any reason for the Hawks to rush him.  

Just like his older brother, Kevin also had a good camp. He played on a line with Jimmy and they showed natural chemistry together, which wasn't a shock. Kevin has a great set of hands and is a good skater. He needs to keep his head up a bit more though. The 19 year old was able to set up many plays and is good at leading rushes into the offensive zone. He'll be back at Boston College next year for his sophomore year.  

The Hawks' second 1st round (26th overall) pick in this year's draft wasn't the flashiest player at camp, but was one of the most solid and consistent players. Danault's work ethic really seemed to shine during battle drills and scrimmages when it was easy to tell the other guy wasn't about to out-hustle him. He was great in all three zones and has good on-ice positioning.

Clendening was also a part of this year's draft class, going in the 2nd round (36th overall) to the Hawks. He looked great at camp. Patrolling the blue line, it seemed like nothing rattled him. He looked calm, cool, and collected back there. He also came across as a good communicator out on the ice. His positioning was also very good. His passing looked crisp as well. He'll be back at Boston University for his sophomore year next season. 

As one of the bigger defensemen at camp, the 6'4", 221 pound Johns stood out on the ice. The 19 year old is a physical force out there. He looked good defensively, although he did get turned around a time or two as a rush came back at him, but he was usually able to recover nicely and keep the forechecker to the outside. He made some smart pinches in the scrimmage on Saturday, especially the one where he got to a loose puck in the slot and scored to give the Red Team a 6-5 lead in the 3rd period. Johns was only at camp for three days because he's taking summer classes at Notre

The free agent invitee really turned some heads at camp. Moses was one of the most consistent players on the ice and one of the most fun ones to watch. He's small, only 5'9", 170 pounds, but the forward is very fast. He was one of the fastest guys there. He's fearless, too. He wasn't afraid to go dig for pucks in the corners and along the boards and he even went to the front of the net, where he scored a goal in Monday's scrimmage from there. He seemed to be good at avoiding checks and even if he did get hit, he bounced right back up and kept on going. He's also a pretty good stickhandler. It would be great to see him get a chance in Rockford to see what he could do against the pros.

Flick definitely wasn't the flashiest guy, but he did all the right things. He looked good at center, he showed great speed, and has a great shot. He also never missed an opportunity to finish a check, which is a good mindset to have, especially at age 20. He could still go back to Mississauga of the OHL next year, as he still has a year of junior eligibility left, but it wouldn't be surprising to see him in Rockford. 

Shaw was probably the player who stood out the most at camp. He seemed to be in the middle of everything. He's an agitator with offensive flare; he was the leading scorer at the Memorial Cup this year. Shaw scored twice in the scrimmage on Saturday and he had a goal get washed out on Monday due to a high stick earlier in the play. He's a very physical player. He has good speed and a great shot. Like Flick, he could still go back to the OHL, but with Owen Sound, but it also wouldn't be a surprise to see him with Rockford.

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