The Chicago Blackhawks have signed forwards and 2011 National Hockey League Entry Draft First Round selections Mark McNeill and Phillip Danault each to a three-year contract..
McNeill, 18, was the Blackhawks first selection (18th overall) in the 2011 National Hockey League Entry Draft. He shares second on the Western Hockey League’s Prince Albert Raiders with 38 points (18G, 21A) in 37 regular-season games this season, and shares second in the WHL with a team-high four shorthanded markers. The Edmonton, Alberta, native has registered at least one point in 18 of his last 19 tilts, and has tallied 17 points (9G, 8A) during a current nine-game point streak.
Over parts of four seasons (2008-11) with Prince Albert, McNeill has recorded 144 points (59G, 85A) in 179 regular-season contests, and five points (2G, 3A) in six WHL postseason tilts after helping lead the Raiders to the playoffs in 2011 for the first time since 2006-07. He ranked fourth at the 2011 U-18 World Championships with six assists while competing for Team Canada and won a gold medal at the 2008 World Ball Hockey Championships in Slovakia, being named to the tournament All-Star team in the process.
Danault, 18, was also selected by Chicago in the first round (26th overall) of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. The captain of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Victoriaville Tigres, he ranks second on the club with 28 assists and has notched 34 points in 33 games this season. The Victoriaville native ranks 10th in the QMJHL with a team-best 411 faceoff wins and a 52.6% winning percentage in the faceoff circle this year.
In parts of three seasons (2009-11) with the Tigres, Danault has posted 129 points (39G, 90A) and a +40 plus/minus rating in 158 regular-season contests, and 16 points (5G, 11A) in 25 QMJHL postseason tilts. He represented Canada at the 2010 Under-18 Ivan Hlinka tournament and Team Quebec at the 2010 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)