Blackhawks mid-season outlook rankings: Ian Mitchell tops the list, Michal Teply is rising fast

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Blackhawks mid-season outlook rankings: Ian Mitchell tops the list, Michal Teply is rising fast

MONTREAL – Halfway through the 2019-2020 season, the Hawks pipeline continues to drag along.

Kirby Dach, Adam Boqvist and Alex Nylander have graduated from the preseason ranking, but other young people have risen.

This list only includes players aged 21 and younger:

Nr. 1: Ian Mitchell, defender, 20 years old

Previous rankings: Number 3.

Stat line: 18 points in 22 matches with University of Denver (NCAA).

The Hawks wanted Mitchell to sign his NHL contract last summer instead of returning to Denver, but it is unlikely to hamper his development. He is one of the best defenders of college hockey and the captain of a national champion competition.

Nr. 2: Philipp Kurashev, center, 20

Previous rankings: Number 5.

Stat line: 16 points in 29 games with Rockford (AHL).

Kurashev has two big things for him: he is a center and he has the speed and creativity to develop into a top six playmaker. He is less NHL-ready than some, but he has a higher advantage.

“In the last few weeks that I played, I really started getting into my flow. . . make faster decisions, “Kurashev said. “I feel that I have more confidence there.”

Nr. 3: Nicolas Beaudin, defender, 20

Previous rankings: Number 6.

Stat line: 10 points in 35 games with Rockford (AHL).

Entering his rookie season in the AHL, Beaudin had to improve his defensive skills before releasing his attacking instincts.

For many substandard young defenders, that process takes a whole year or longer. For Beaudin, it took only a few months thanks to his remarkable hockey intelligence.

Nr. 4: Brandon Hail, winger, 21

Previous rankings: Nr. 10.

Stat line: 21 points in 37 games for Rockford (AHL).

Thirteen of the 21 points are goals. Hail has been so productive with Canadian juniors and the AHL that an NHL opportunity feels inevitable.

Nr. 5: Michal Teply, winger, 18

Previous rankings: Outside the top 10.

Stat line: 35 points in 32 games for Winnipeg (WHL).

Teply has evolved shockingly from an overlooked fourth-round choice in June to a top-five outlook in the Hawks system.

In the last six months, he moved to North America, became a point-per-game player in Canadian juniors, and led the Czech Republic in scoring at the junior world championships. Teply would probably be a top 50 choice in a simulated penalty.

Nr. 6: Alex Vlasic, defender, 18

Previous rankings: Nr. 7.

Stat line: Three points in 19 games with Boston University (NCAA).

Vlasic – the Hawks’ second round choice in 2019 – remains a long-term project.

Nr. 7: Evan Barratt, center, 20

Previous rankings: Nr. 9.

Stat line: 25 points in 22 games with Penn State (NCAA).

Barratt’s production remains sky-high in his third year with the Nittany Lions, although his lack of speed and acceleration will hamper his ability to translate that into pro hockey.

Nr. 8: MacKenzie Entwistle, winger, 20

Previous rankings: Outside the top 10.

Stat line: 16 points in 32 games for Rockford (AHL).

The Hawks love how Entwistle has embraced its future as a reliable bottom six grinder.

Nr. 9: Alexis Gravel, goalkeeper, 19

Previous rankings: Nr. 8.

Stat line: 9-12-2, .888 save percentage for Halifax (QMJHL).

It was a disappointing season for Gravel, who looked excellent in Traverse City, but saw his junior savings percentage drop from .913 last season. He is still the best goalkeeper of the Hawks.

Nr. 10: Antti Saarela, center, 18

Previous rankings: Outside the top 10.

Stat line: Seven points in 23 games for Tampere (Finland).

The production of Saarela in the Finnish top class has remained constant despite the change of teams from last season. The Hawks traded his older brother, Aleksi, for the Panthers but retained Antti.