It’s been a while. What’s going on with the Chicago Blackhawks prospects in the CHL and USHL, eh?
Before we discuss the three Blackhawks prospects on the Seattle Thunderbirds, a quick look at their postseason dominance from the first two rounds. Seattle swept its first two series, defeating the Kelowna Rockets and Prince George Cougars. The PG sweep was especially lopsided, with Seattle winning those four games by an aggregate score of 25-5 – including back-to-back eight-goal outbursts. Seattle finally lost a playoff game on Tuesday but still owns a 2-1 series lead over the Kamloops Blazers in the WHL's Western Conference Championship, with Game 4 on Thursday.
Kevin Korchinski, Seattle Thunderbirds
Regular Season Stats: 73 points (11 G, 62 A), 54 PIM, 139 SOG in 54 games played
Postseason Stats: 10 points (10 A), 4 PIM, 28 SOG, in 11 games played
Korchinski finished the regular season at 1.35 points per game, third among WHL defensemen. The finale was an exclamation point, too, with Korchinski posting a four-point night (2 G, 2 A) against Portland on March 24.
Since the playoffs started, he's up near a point per game with 10 assists in 11 games, including this primary assist:
For a non-goal highlight, here's Korchinski navigating the neutral zone with ease before setting up a teammate for a goal:
Postseason accolades have started to roll in as well for Korchinski, who was named the US Division Defenseman of the Year. He's also a finalist for the WHL Defenseman of the Year.
There's not much more praise to be heaped upon Korchinski from this direction. He's done nothing to diminish his draft stock in Seattle and has certainly raised the possibility that he could be skating in Chicago as soon as this fall.
Nolan Allan, Seattle Thunderbirds
Regular Season Stats: 27 points (11 G, 16 A), 50 PIM, 94 SOG in 57 games played
Postseason Stats: 7 points (2 G, 5 A), 13 PIM, 18 SOG in 11 games played
Allan's point production has ticked up a bit in the postseason and he scored the only goal for Seattle in Tuesday's loss at Kamloops:
Here's a primary assist from Allan during that destruction of Prince George in the second round:
All indications are that Allan is having a solid season in Seattle. His ceiling has never been projected quite as high as Korchinski's, with Allan being selected 25 spots later in the first round in 2021 than Korchinski was in 2022. Still, there's enough on tape from Allan to make his hockey future one worth keeping an eye on for the rest of this season as well as in seasons beyond.
Colton Dach, Seattle Thunderbirds
Regular Season Stats: 27 points (12 G, 15 A), 31 PIM, 81 SOG in 23 games played
Postseason Stats: 11 points (3 G, 8 A), 10 PIM, 32 SOG in 11 games played
The best news on the Dach front is that he's been in the lineup for every Seattle playoff game after an injury-plagued regular season that limited him to just 23 games split between Kelowna and Seattle. But he's at a point-per-game pace in 11 postseason games and was a standout performer in Seattle's Game 2 win over Kamloops last weekend:
Like Allan, Dach is approaching the end of his time in juniors and how his transition to professional hockey unfolds starting next season – almost certainly in Rockford – will be yet another interesting part of the 2023-24 hockey season.
Gavin Hayes, Flint Firebirds
Regular Season Stats: 81 points (41 G, 40 A), 32 PIM, 216 SOG in 66 games played
Postseason Stats: 2 points (2 A), 21 SOG, in 7 games played
Flint was eliminated from the OHL playoffs after losing Game 7 to the Sarnia Sting back on April 10. A week before that, Hayes had confirmed his hockey future by signing with Chicago:
As the stats above indicate, Hayes was extremely quiet in those postseason games with the Firebirds, failing to score a goal after being Flint's No. 2 scorer during the regular season. It wasn't the ideal end for Hayes, but that smaller sample can't diminish the overall performance from the 2022 third-round pick this season. He was still skating on the top line as of the final game of that series, though:
Paul Ludwinski, Kingston Frontenacs
Regular Season Stats: 34 points (9 G, 25 A), 12 PIM, 90 SOG in 47 games played
Ludwinski, who turned 19 back on April 23, missed the final few weeks of the regular season with a reported left ankle sprain but still left a strong impression on coaches across the OHL (as did a few other Blackhawks prospects):
Ludwinski signed a professional tryout contract with the IceHogs once the OHL season ended but did not appear in any games with Rockford. He was released from that contract on Monday so his hockey season is effectively over. We'll see where he ends up next season.
Ethan del Mastro, Sarnia Sting
Regular Season Stats: 59 points (7 G, 52 A), 82 PIM, 76 SOG in 52 games played
Postseason Stats: 8 points (8 A), 23 PIM, 24 SOG in 13 games played
Deep into the postseason, del Mastro remains a top-pairing fixture for the Sting:
Sarnia beat the Guelph Storm and Saginaw Spirit, respectively, in the first two rounds of the OHL playoffs and are down 2-1 against the London Knights with Game 4 slated for Wednesday night in Sarnia.
There isn't much to share in the way of highlights for del Mastro, but he's still handling top-line minutes while playing in all situations for the Sting. He's pretty much accomplished all that he can in juniors and the 20-year-old fourth-round pick from the 2021 draft will be high on the list of prospects to watch in Rockford next season.
Samuel Savoie, Gatineau Olympiques
Regular Season Stats: 59 points (26 G, 33 A), 90 PIM, 134 SOG in 54 games played
Postseason Stats: 8 points (2 G, 6 A), 14 PEM, 27 SOG in 12 games played
Savoie's latest offensive contribution was this primary assist on Tuesday night:
Gatineau lost that game 5-4 to the Quebec Remparts and is staring down an 0-3 series deficit in the conference finals after eliminating the Saint John Sea Dogs and Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in the first two rounds. Savoie has been a steady, consistent performer for Gatineau in the postseason, with points in seven of the Olympiques' 13 playoff games. He's still skating top-six minutes as well, based on the lineup ahead of Game 3:
Savoie and the Olympiques will look to stave off elimination in Game 4 at home on Wednesday night.
Sam Rinzel, Waterloo Black Hawks
Regular Season Stats: 36 points (9 G, 27 A), 36 PIM, 132 SOG in 58 games played
Postseason Stats: 3 points (1 G, 2 A), 2 PIM, 4 SOG in 3 games played
Waterloo's postseason came to a quick end in the form of a first-round defeat in the Clark Cup Playoffs at the hands of the Lincoln Stars. Rinzel's lone playoff goal came on the power play in the decisive third game against Lincoln.
Up next for Rinzel is a trip up north to the University of Minnesota, where he'll begin his college hockey career next fall. While there's not a ton of data out there on USHL production, the information below from Thibaud Chatel on Twitter does offer a fairly positive look at what Rinzel accomplished this season:
Chatel offered a little more detail on what his data attempts to communicate in the reply below:
Still, Rinzel was always viewed as a more long-term project of a player so he likely remains several seasons away from an NHL debut. But how he fares with the Gophers in the next hockey season will provide better glimpses of what his hockey future can be.
Nils Juntorp, Dubuque Fighting Saints
Regular Season Stats: 27 points (12 G, 15 A), 28 PIM, 95 SOG in 59 games played
Postseason Stats: 2 points (2 A), 4 PIM, 4 SOG in 5 games played
Dubuque knocked off the Green Bay Gamblers in the first round of the Clark Cup Playoffs before the Chicago Steel ended Dubuque's season with a two-game sweep in the second round. Juntorp ended on a positive note with a pair of assists in Game 2 against Chicago, but those points were his only postseason contributions on the scoreboard. He finished in a top-six role for Dubuque: