Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Blackhawks Prospects Rave About Unique Development Camp, Share Upcoming Plans

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With the 2024 NHL Draft in the rearview mirror, the process for the Blackhawks’ new prospects to turn into NHL-caliber players has only just begun. This past week, Chicago’s newest skaters joined some of the top young prospects already in the pipeline at an off-ice development camp for the second straight year.

The week of “competition, growth, and fun” placed an emphasis on team building as the future teammates were given the opportunity to meet one another and compete among themselves. Split into four different teams, “points” were on the line every day for games like capture the flag. The prospects were also run through different drills and exercises as well as workouts and even life skills workshops. The players, led primarily by members of the 2022 draft class, raved about the chance to be welcomed into the system in such a unique way.

“The first time I came here, it’s a bit stressful. You don’t know the guys, you don’t know anyone. So just from that experience, [we try] to help the young guys go out to eat and have supper with us at night.”

– Samuel Savoie, 2022 third-round pick

“Just sharing those bonds, those laughs, it builds a lot of chemistry for the future. The competitive aspect of it too, you know, we’re not just here to have fun. We’re here to get better and make the person next to [us] better.”

– Paul Ludwinski, 2022 second-round pick

“Our draft class – we know everyone. The new guys coming in, you just try to make them welcome and not too scared of everything.”

— Gavin Hayes, 2022 third-round pick

In addition to the lighthearted competition, the development camp represented a chance for the prospects to meet with the media, giving them an update on their current development and upcoming plans.

The most recognizable figure in the camp, No. 2 overall pick Artyom Levshunov, spoke on his draft experience at the Sphere in Las Vegas.

Levshunov’s reputation obviously preceded him, as previous opponents like Oliver Moore shared thoughts on the star defenseman’s game.

No. 18 overall pick Sacha Boisvert, who is headed to the University of North Dakota in the fall, said he would be taking tips from the camp to work on throughout next season. But he also mentioned that when he was drafted, the first players to reach out to welcome him were Connor Bedard and Nick Foligno. It’s become the consensus that Foligno is almost like a father figure to the entire team, providing excellent leadership since coming over last summer. It’s great that Bedard is following suit and is a good sign if he wants to eventually be named captain.

Many other current prospects spoke on their development, including Nick Lardis, Moore, Sam Rinzel, Gavin Hayes, Ryan Greene and a few others. But the Blackhawks’ third and final first-round pick from this year shared an interesting perspective on draft night, telling the media that he was aware the Blackhawks were interested in him as a player, but not necessarily enough to trade up to get him.

Vanacker told reporters he was limited at camp because he’s still rehabilitating after shoulder surgery last month, but that he’s looking forward to building relationships with players and staff involved in the pipeline in Chicago.

The prospects’ media availability proved to be more than just a chance to get to know the players; it also gave fans much-needed updates and unique insights. With development camp now in the books, they’ll each turn their focus to the upcoming season, whether that’s in Chicago, Rockford, a college program, or in the CHL.

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