This article is part of our Prospects Analysis series.
The second entry in a four-part series, this piece breaks down the prospect pools of each franchise in the Central Division, including the teams and leagues for which they played in 2015-16. The bolded numbers next to players' names represent their rank among the NHL's top 100 prospects, if applicable.
(Note: Players with 25 games or more of NHL regular-season experience are not eligible.)
1. Nick Schmaltz, F, University of North Dakota [NCAA] 30
2. Ville Pokka, D, Rockford [AHL] 76
3. Tyler Motte, F, U. of Michigan [NCAA]/Rockford [AHL] 82
4. Alex DeBrincat, F, Erie [OHL]
5. Chad Krys, D, USA U-18 Team [U.S. NTDP]
6. Ryan Hartman, F, Chicago [NHL]/Rockford [AHL]
7. Artur Kayumov, F, Russia U-18 Team [MHL]
8. Vince Hinostroza, F, Chicago [NHL]/Rockford [AHL]
9. Gustav Forsling, D, Linkoping [SHL]
10. Mark McNeill, F, Chicago [NHL]/Rockford [AHL]
Sleeper: Graham Knott, F, Niagara [OHL]
Overview: The model franchise in today's NHL, the Blackhawks do a better job of supplementing their top players with late-round draft picks (Motte, Hinostroza) and undrafted free agents (Artemi Panarin, Trevor van Riemsdyk) than any team in the league. Pokka, Hartman and McNeill are all ready for NHL duty in some capacity, but it will take an injury or trade for a spot to open in Chicago.
DeBrincat has 102 goals and 205 points for Erie over the last two seasons. He's very small (5-foot-7, 165 pounds)