I had a chance to watch the Blackhawks prospects take on the Toronto Maple Leafs prospects on Saturday night at the opening game of the Toronto Maple Leafs Rookie Tournament. The Hawks lost 6-3 and the result was about as important as an NFL pre-season game. On Sunday, the Hawks lost to the Ottawa Senators 7-3 which I caught none of. Tuesday night, they’ll play the Penguins prospect team.
It took me about a period and a half to figure out who the lesser known Hawks were. Beach was obviously very noticeable (more on him later) but others were a bit more difficult to decipher between. Anyways, there were a few things that jumped out to me watching the Saturday night tilt so here we go….
—Brandon Pirri is listed as 6’1″ but doesn’t look an inch above 5’9″ with skates on. In addition to that, Pirri was largely invisible during even-strength play. I have to say, at this rate, I don’t expect him to last very long in Rockford. Pirri does not look strong or smart enough to play in the AHL so it’s very likely he could be headed to Toledo by February.
—Kyle Beach did exactly what a top-15 pick should do in exhibitions like this: look a cut above the competition. Beach scored a goal by sniping out the lower left corner on an odd-man rush. Shift in and shift out, he was probably the Hawks best player. Of course, he wouldn’t be Kyle Beach without some shenanigans. Late in the 2nd period after a scrum in front of the Leafs net, Beach caught a butt-end in the mouth and was livid. He was being escorted away by a linesman when he tried to break free and ended up making physical contact with him. So he went to the box on a 10-minute misconduct.
It wasn’t very bright, but it also wasn’t as bad as his past digressions. Unfortunately, his reputation has already gotten to the point where fans have little patience for him. This probably won’t end well.
—Shawn Lalonde was pretty awful. Bad reads, lousy decision-making, and a step slow all game. He shouldn’t be expected to contribute positively on the Hawks anytime soon.
–My Hawks prospect sleeper for sometime has been Brian Connelly and I was a bit let down by him last night. There was a moment in the second where the Hawks had some terrific cross-ice passing on the power-play where it went from Pirri to Beach to Connelly. A true NHL defensemen, in one motion, would have received the cross-ice feed and buried a shot towards the net. Connelly couldn’t handle the pass and the threat was neutralized. Otherwise, he didn’t really do much to stand out positively or negatively. He is the team captain for whatever that’s worth.
–After coming over in the Cam Barker trade, I watched snippets of Nick Leddy at Minnesota. Last night was the best I’ve ever seen him look. Though a bit undersized, Leddy was nearly on the same plane as Beach as far as standing out above the rest. He looked extremely confident with and without the puck and his skating is no joke. He is extremely smooth and really quick. The big key for him will be whether he can handle grown-ass men putting him through the boards on a nightly basis.
—Jeremy Morin will play in the NHL someday and he will score his fair share of goals. He scored a goal late in the second period where he gathered the puck along the far wall and wristed a shot over the goalie’s right shoulder. Morin just has the look of a goal-scoring winger. Hard to describe until you see him.
—Phillipe Paradis, one of the three players to come in the Versteeg trade, was better than I anticipated. It’s usually a red-flag when a first-round pick has been traded two times within a year of getting drafted, but he looks like someone who can carve out a pretty solid niche as a 3rd line winger. Whether he wants to do that is up to him.
–Rookie free-agent signings from last March, Ryan Stanton and Brandon Bollig, should each get vanity plates on their car that says, “AHL4LFE”.
–The mysterious Igor Makarov looked pretty good. A solid season in the AHL could really catapult him into the Hawks’ 2011-2012 top 6.