Four Blackhawks Prospects Are In The Running For A Spot On USA Hockey’s World Juniors Roster

Before I get started, follow Chicago Prospects on Twitter if you’re a Hawks fan. I would be so very lost without them.

USA Hockey’s preliminary camp roster for the 2022 World Juniors is here and it’s glorious.

Earlier this year, we obviously won gold and I am so excited to get back to this tournament again. It’s one of my favorites to watch and write about. You see so many upcoming NHL prospects really shine and dazzle the world during these games. And once again, the US has a kick-ass roster.

Now usually here, I’d take some time to talk specifically about the 5 players hailing from Michigan but in light of the Big Ten Championship, all I have to say right now is: Go Hawkeyes. (I’ll blog about them sometime next week)

Instead, I’m shifting focus to the four –count ’em 4– Hawks prospects on this prelim roster.

First up, goaltender Drew Commesso has been called to this camp. He was drafted 46th overall in 2020 by the Hawks. Commesso was not a part of the 2021 Gold-winning Junior team but he went up and played at the Men’s World Championships where he won the Bronze with Team USA. As I said Commesso has been playing at BU, so far this season he’s 4-7-2 with a 3.11 GAA and a .889 save percentage. I have a feeling he’ll be fighting for starter with Dylan Silverstein, the 17-year-old goalie from the USNTDP, who is currently 3-1-0 in his first 4 games of the season with a 2.80 GAA and a .899 save percentage. Here’s an impressive shutout from Commesso:

This group of defensemen is stacked and two of those names are Hawks prospects from UMD. Wyatt Kaiser is a left-shot defenseman who is just 19-years-old, was drafted 81st overall by the Hawks at the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. His teammate Connor Kelley, a right-shot defenseman, also 19 from UMD, was taken 204th overall by the Hawks in the 2021 NHL draft. They’re both in their second season with UMD.

So far into this season, Kaiser has 6 points (1G 5A) in 12 games with a -4 rating. He’s a big boy (6’0″, 172lbs) but he’s quick like a cat, move around well for a guy that big. Here are his shifts from a game in December of 2020. (Once again, shoutout Chicago Blackhawks Prospects, y’all rule)

As for Kelley, he’s played in 11 games this season with 4 assists and a +7 rating. He’s also said to be fast, another big player too (6’1″, 190lbs). I can’t find much tape on him. I don’t watch too much UMD so I’m excited to watch these two with the carousel of other talented defensemen, like Luke Hughes or Jacob Truscott, to get a better grasp on how they shake out. If they make it to Alberta then hell yeah.

Now last but far, far, far from least, we have Landon Slaggert. I’ve talked about him numerous times in blogs about Notre Dame and he’s honestly one of my favorite college players at the moment. As I mentioned, he’s currently playing at Notre Dame, he’s the only Hawks prospect called to this camp who actually won gold at the World Juniors with USA Hockey earlier this year. He is 19 years old, a whopping 6’0″, 181 lbs, he’s having a great year in South Bend (his hometown) with the Fighting Irish. In 13 games so far he’s got 8 points (4G 4A), last season he had 22 points (8G 14A) in 25. Out of the 4 prospects we’ve talked about Slaggert is the one I am most familiar with, as Notre Dame is my second team. I think he’ll make this roster once more and I hope he gets the goal scoring going while he’s there. He’s just a massive presence to have on the ice but when he’s scoring, he’s fucking electric to watch.

Four prospects is a great number to even have considered for the World Juniors. Obviously, we’re going to have to wait to see how all this shakes out as the Championships draw near. All 31 of these kids listed at the top of this blog will head up to Plymouth, Michigan, starting December 12th for training camp. Then we have only a fortnight (14 days) until the final roster of 25 will head up to Alberta to start their quest for another gold.

I’ve got a good feeling about this team, I usually do, but overall I’m just excited for this tournament to start up. When this roster gets knocked down to 25 I’ll do an in-depth blog like I usually do. For now, I’m going to be cheering on these four (and after the Michigan vs Iowa game on Saturday, probably those other 5).

Now I will leave you with the best song ever:

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Featured Image:  Codie McLachlan/Getty Images

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