Earlier this week, I used to be ready to talk with Blackhawks prospect Aidan Thompson a couple of summer season by which he used to be drafted, performed in construction camps in Chicago and for USA Hockey, and is now headed to play for the University of Denver.
After now not listening to his named referred to as two times throughout the NHL Draft, Aidan Thompson in the end had the second that modified his lifestyles this summer season. The Chicago Blackhawks decided on Thompson with the 3rd spherical of the 2022 NHL Draft (No. 90 total), making the University of Denver middle a member of basic supervisor Kyle Davidson’s first draft elegance.
It used to be a second Thompson were looking ahead to, and after two a hit seasons with the Lincoln Stars in the USHL, the time had in the end arrived. He described the second as surreal and a dream come true. The 20-year-old used to be on his method to the skilled ranks.
Thompson maintains that he’s all the time performed the recreation the identical approach. He self-scouted his recreation as a two-way ahead who does “anything the team needs to win games.” He’ll ranking targets, kill consequences, upload to the energy play. Whether it’s the starting or finish of the recreation, he needs to be on the ice. Yet it took till his 3rd yr of being eligible for the draft for an NHL staff to choose him.
He used to be instructed through staff scouts throughout the draft procedure that his persisted paintings ethic and construction earned him a possible NHL alternative. And one staff that confirmed important passion prior to the draft used to be in Chicago.
“I talked to quite a few teams and I thought [the Blackhawks] were one team with more interest than others,” Thompson mentioned. “So I thought they were a team that, when they were on the board, I would be looking a little more carefully. But like I said, I didn’t know exactly when I was going to go – I was thinking maybe [between the second and fourth rounds] – so when they picked me [in the third round] I was really happy.”
Getting drafted began a summer season adventure like Thompson had by no means skilled. He described a summer season that started with the finish of his season in Lincoln, adopted through a couple of weeks off prior to coaching at DU and then the draft.
“That day was a little crazy” he joked.
The day after he used to be drafted, Thompson boarded a plan for Chicago to sign up for the Blackhawks’ construction camp. He then returned to Colorado for “about a week” prior to he jumped on some other aircraft to sign up for USA Hockey of their construction camp for the World Juniors. Thompson used the phrase “chaotic” to explain his summer season, and that looks like an underestimation.
Thompson opened eyes at the Blackhawks’ construction camp and much more at the USA camp, the place he stood out till an damage ended his hopes of making the staff for the rescheduled tournament in August. But enjoying neatly at each the Blackhawks’ camp and USA’s camp boosted his self belief heading into his first collegiate season at Denver.
“It reassures how you feel about yourself as a player,” he mentioned. “Doing well [in Chicago] and meeting all the people was a great experience. Now coming to DU, I couldn’t be more excited and we’re all working for another national championship.”
Increased self belief will cross a ways for Thompson, who’s one of 5 new DU avid gamers decided on in the 2022 NHL Draft; their roster is loaded with avid gamers who’ve both been drafted or will likely be draft eligible in the coming yr. But it took two seasons with Lincoln in the USHL for him to in the end get to the level that he’s an NHL draft pick out himself.
Two years in the past, Thompson completed 2nd on the Lincoln squad with 33 issues (10 targets, 23 lend a hand) in 52 video games. The simplest skater who completed that season forward of him used to be Dominic James – who used to be decided on through the Blackhawks in the 6th spherical (No. 173 total) in the 2022 NHL Draft. James left Lincoln for his freshman season at Minnesota-Duluth, however the two had been reunited at the Blackhawks’ construction camp previous this summer season.
Minnesota-Duluth and Denver have a pleasant contention in the NCHC. Their convention additionally has a contention – with the Big Ten. Thompson mentioned he and James made fast buddies with some other 2022 draft pick out, even though their meetings don’t essentially get alongside.
“[Dom and I] were giving it to Frank [Nazar] about being in the Big Ten,” Thompson mentioned about some of the chirping that happened at the Fifth Third Arena in early July. “Obviously [the Big Ten is] a great conference but there’s a bit of a rivalry there so we were giving it to him a bit.”
Thompson, James and Nazar all skated at the USA Hockey construction camp prior to the World Juniors this summer season as neatly; James used to be the just one of the 3 to make the staff and he had a robust WJC. All 3 will likely be on faculty campuses as new draft choices; Nazar is a freshman at Michigan.
So how does that paintings, precisely? They’re all avid gamers who had been drafted through an NHL group this summer season – so that they’re theoretically “teammates” – however they’re now enjoying for 3 other universities this season. And all 3 methods have official nationwide championship aspirations. According to Thompson, the Blackhawks are there to lend a hand whilst the workforce at DU will maintain the training.
“If I need anything, [the Blackhawks] are a great resource,” he mentioned. “If you need video or nutrition or anything you need for your development the Blackhawks will have it. The coaching staff at DU – I don’t know if you can get a much better coaching staff than the guys here. I can’t wait to get to work chasing a tenth national championship.”
Thompson is correct in having self belief in the training workforce in Denver. He’s in extremely just right fingers with DU head trainer David Carle, who coached present Blackhawks possibilities Ian Mitchell and fresh faculty unfastened agent signee Cole Guttman. Guttman used to be the captain of the Pioneers’ nationwide name staff ultimate yr. And the lengthy record of DU avid gamers matriculating to the NHL ranks over the previous decade is a sign of a program that is aware of what it takes to make just right avid gamers into pros.
The Blackhawks have an extended historical past with the University of Denver, which we mentioned when the Blackhawks signed Guttman.
Based on what we noticed at the Blackhawks’ construction camp, Thompson is primed to have a just right first season at Denver. We’ll be staring at how the Pioneers’ season progresses after an enormous season-opening recreation in opposition to two different Blackhawks possibilities when Denver heads to South Bend to begin their 2022-23 season in opposition to Notre Dame – and Landon Slaggert and Ryder Rolston – in early October.