It’s that time of year, folks! The Blackhawks have announced the schedule and roster for this year’s prospect camp — and the excitement has begun to build! As we had previously reported, the camp will take place over five days instead of the usual four — and it will span an entire work week rather than Thursday-Sunday. While this will make it harder for those of us with full-time jobs to attend, fear not. Runs On Duncan will keep you informed all five days as well as the weekend leading up to it, as yours truly will provide Prospect Camp Previews for each of the main positions over the next three days.
The first two days of the schedule consist of practices. On Monday, the prospects will be split into four groups, with the groups taking the ice to practice two at a time. Chances are Team A and B will be formed once the coaches have looked at their notes for the first day, as has been the case in previous years. On Tuesday, the teams will practice separately, with Team A taking the morning and Team B taking the afternoon. Wednesday and Thursday will see full game-time scrimmages between the teams following practice for Team A on Wednesday and Team B on Thursday. Friday will round out the week with a last scrimmage, once again with three 20-minute periods.
The extra scrimmage time should address the major complaint we’ve voiced in previous years, i.e. that most of the time consisted of watching prospects going through drills rather than showing their skills in real game situations. The continuous practice time should allow for drill nerds such as myself to still get to observe the prospects’ skills on an individual level as well — and will help prepare the prospects for the way the Hawks run their pre-game practices.
Most of the players will need the practice. At a glance, the roster is full of unfamiliar names. This is due to the fact that several of our better-known prospects are no longer eligible to attend development camp due to their age, time in the AHL, or time with the club. It’s also because, out of 52 total players, 22 are Free Agent Invitees (14 forwards, 5 defensemen, and 3 goaltenders, if you’re curious). These invitees range from college players from Evanston to European players with varying levels of experience, held together by the common thread that is their age group. As we preview the roster for each position, we’ll take a closer look at some of the unknowns and some of the draft picks we’re most excited about.
Until tomorrow, when we get started with the largest group of all — forwards!