Ryan Hartman #18 of Team Housley skates against Team McClanahan at the USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game at the First Niagara Center on September 29, 2012 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The Chicago Blackhawks have plenty of exciting players on their active roster right now, but when fans take a look at some of the prospects coming up through their system, there is even more reason for optimism.
Sure, guys like Teuvo Teravainen and others are making big waves, but one of the areas the team has seemed to focus on as of late is drafting and developing American-born players. Whether it’s a guy like Brandon Saad (Pittsburgh), or draft picks like Stephen Johns and Kevin Hayes, the Hawks have placed an emphasis on talent here at home, and the fruits of that labor are beginning to show in other places too.
When Team USA, the defending champions in the World Junior Championship, announced the 15 forwards on their preliminary roster Wednesday, the list has a couple of Blackhawks prospects on it. For starters, there is 2013 first round draft pick Ryan Hartman, who played on last year’s gold medal-winning squad. Also joining Hartman is Tyler Motte, who was drafted by the Hawks in the fourth round in June’s draft.
Here is what United States of Hockey’s Chris Peters had to say about Hartman and Motte:
On Hartman: “With some outstanding versatility, Hartman is another one of those guys you can slot just about anywhere in the lineup and have some success…..Hartman plays a physical style, but also has some underrated skill as he is good at getting to the net and creating offense. His tenacity will be necessary in games against teams like Canada and the Czech Republic in group play.”
On Motte: “Undersized but incredibly crafty, Motte is an intriguing option for Team USA…Motte is just a smart player and that helps his chances for potentially sliding into the 13th forward slot. I’d say like Fitzgerald he’d be on the bubble, but a good camp gives him a really good shot at making the final roster.”
Team USA hasn’t announced their defensemen or goalies yet for the tournament, but all final roster decisions will need to be made before the tournament begins on December 26th.
For updates on the rest of Team USA’s roster, as well as some great insight on other prospects not lucky enough to be chosen to head to Malmo, you should follow Chris on Twitter @chrismpeters.