Three Blackhawks prospects caught GM's attention
Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said "it was a great week" at prospects camp at Johnny's IceHouse West. Of the 57 players who took part in drills and scrimmages, a half-dozen have at least a decent chance to earn a spot on the final roster.
So who stood out?
Bowman said he liked what he saw out of 2014 first-round pick Nick Schmaltz, former Blue Jackets forward Marko Dano and 23-year-old defenseman Erik Gustafsson.
Bowman's thoughts on the trio:
• "Nick Schmaltz was very impressive all week. He showed us quite a bit. There's a lot of excitement there about his future."
• "(Dano's) a great guy, great hockey player, but he's got a great personality. He seems to love life and he's always got a smile on his face. … I think he's going to be a very exciting player for us."
• "We liked what (Gustafsson) did this week. I think he's got that combination of skill and maturity, poise, competitiveness."
Gustafsson was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in 2012 but never signed, playing the last three seasons in Sweden. The 6-foot, 176-pounder certainly isn't lacking for confidence, telling Brian Hedger of NHL. com: "I'm not coming over here to have a goal to go down to the AHL. I'm coming over here hunting for a spot on the NHL team."
Two other players to keep an eye on in September are forwards Ryan Haggerty and Tanner Kero.
Haggerty, acquired in the trade that sent goalie Antti Raanta to the Rangers, was one of New York's final cuts last season. The 6-foot, 201-pound Stamford, Conn., native admitted Friday that news of the trade hit him hard at first.
"It was always my dream to play for the New York Rangers," said Haggerty, who scored 15 goals with Hartford (AHL). "Being so close yet so far away definitely hurt me. But coming to Chicago -- the best team right now in the NHL, the best franchise -- it was very exciting for me and my family."
Kero (5-11, 175) had a successful season with Michigan Tech in the WCHA (20 goals in 41 games), then scored 7 goals in just 12 games in Rockford.
"My speed is probably my biggest asset," said Kero, who admitted he needs to get stronger. "I think of myself more as a playmaker. I try to set up guys as much as I can."
He said it:
"It's a big business. You can't blame or fault anybody for trying to do what they can to get what they can out of the game."
-- Kris Versteeg on Brandon Saad signing a six-year, $36 million deal with Columbus