suntimes
UPBEAT 
Weather Updates

Hawks prospect camp: Five players to watch

IHOCKEY-WORLD-RUS-FIN

IHOCKEY-WORLD-RUS-FIN

storyidforme: 51813447
tmspicid: 19227050
fileheaderid: 8731148

CAMP SCHEDULE

Monday

• Noon-1:30 p.m.: Practice, Groups 1 and 2

• 2-3 p.m.: Practice, Groups 3 and 4

Tuesday

• 10-11:15 a.m.: Practice, Groups 1 and 2

• 11:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m.: Practice, Groups 3 and 4

Wednesday

• 10-11 a.m.: Practice, Team A

• 11:30 a.m.: Scrimmage, Team A vs. Team B

Thursday

• 10-11 a.m.: Practice, Team B

• 11:30 a.m.: Scrimmage, Team A vs. Team B

Friday

• 10 a.m.: Scrimmage, Team A vs. Team B

Updated: July 7, 2013 8:36PM



Chances are, not one of the players participating in the Blackhawks’ prospect camp this week at Johnny’s IceHouse West will be on the opening day roster in October. In fact, probably only one or two even have an outside chance of sniffing the NHL roster at any point in the 2013-14 season.

But you never know who will be the next Brandon Saad or Andrew Shaw (both 2011 participants). Or Marcus Kruger, Nick Leddy or Ben Smith (2010). Or Antti Niemi (2008). Or even current on-the-brink names such as Brandon Pirri, Jimmy Hayes, Jeremy Morin, Dylan Olsen and Drew LeBlanc, all of whom got their first taste of Hawks hockey at prospect camp.

‘‘It’s a chance to show them a glimpse of what the Blackhawks are all about,’’ general manager Stan Bowman said. ‘‘Some of these guys have never been to a camp before. We can’t cover too much ground and instruction in a one-week camp, but we can get them acclimated to how we do things — preparation, training, nutrition, skill development, positional work.’’

The camp starts Monday at noon, then begins at 10 a.m. from Tuesday through Friday. Starting Wednesday, there will be a scrimmage each day with three 20-minute periods.

Here are a few players to keep an eye on this week:

G Antti Raanta

The 24-year-old goaltender might be the closest of the 51 campers to the NHL. The Hawks signed 40-year-old Nikolai Khabibulin to a one-year contract Friday to replace the departed Ray Emery, but the 6-1, 189-pound Raanta is a viable option to be the Hawks’ backup at some point this coming season. He was the regular-season and playoff MVP of his league in Finland, going 12-4 with a 1.33 goals-against average in the postseason.

C Phillip Danault

A first-round pick in 2011, Danault is one of the many centers in the organization that prompted Bowman to say he likes the Hawks’ depth down the middle despite the draft-day trade of Dave Bolland to Toronto. Danault had 23 goals and 62 assists in just 56 games in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last year. Like many at this camp, he still needs some seasoning in Rockford.

C Mark McNeill

The Hawks’ other first-round pick in 2011, McNeill enjoyed his third straight season of averaging better than a point per game in the Western Hockey League last season, with 25 goals and 42 assists in 65 games with Prince Albert. He, too, is destined for a season in Rockford to help replace the likes of Pirri, Smith and Hayes, who likely will be on the NHL roster this season.

LW Garret Ross

Ross, a fifth-round pick in 2012, played with Saad for the Ontario Hockey League’s Saginaw Spirit for two seasons. In his first year at Saginaw without Saad, he erupted for 44 goals and 46 assists in 61 games last season. The 21-year-old also had 114 penalty minutes.

D Stephen Johns

There are several intriguing blue-liners, including Chris Chelios’ son Jake and 2013 second-rounder Carl Dahlstrom, but Johns could be the most impressive. The 21-year-old Notre Dame senior-to-be and 2010 second-round pick is 6-4 and 220 pounds and has earned a reputation for rugged, physical play.



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.