Despite being passed over at last summer's NHL draft, forward Alexandre Fortin made the most of a free agent invitation to Blackhawks prospect camp and was rewarded with a pro contract by the end of training camp. The following profile was adapted from the March/April issue of Blackhawks Magazine.
Alexandre Fortin's journey from undrafted free agent to legitimate NHL prospect is a testament to patient scouting on the part of the Blackhawks, as the 19-year-old opened eyes at prospect camp last summer, earning a longer look at the rookie tournament and ultimately a contract. His numbers might not have been especially impressive on a stacked Rouyn-Noranda team that won the QMJHL title in 2015-16 and made the Memorial Cup Final, but Amateur Scout Alexandre Rouleau saw the potential for more.
"Even though his numbers are not through the roof, he does really well offensively and he does a lot of great things on the ice," Rouleau said. "He plays really fast in the neutral zone, his coach uses him in a few different places, and he can play PK or power play, so there's more to his game than just offense. He can bring energy with his speed and a lot of momentum to the game."
Fortin began the 2016-17 season with a lot of confidence but hit a slow patch in December, when he recorded just one assist all month despite continuing to generate shots. After working with the Huskies coaching staff, his fortunes turned around in the second half of the season, and Fortin finished the year with 52 points in 52 games, posting career highs in all offensive categories (22G, 30A, 151 SOG). His efforts helped a strong Rouyn-Noranda team win the West Division, finishing with the second-best record in the QMJHL.
In the playoffs, the Laval, Quebec, native found another gear, finished second on the team with a career-best 16 points (6G, 10G) in 13 games before the Huskies were ousted in seven games in the second round. He recorded three or more points three different times, including a standout four-point outing in Game 6 of the second round against Chicoutimi.
While Fortin still needs to mature physically, his the improvements he showed throughout the season have Blackhawks brass feeling optimistic. Rouleau calls him an "elite" skater, and his ability to scoot up and down the ice and make plays at high speed should translate well in the pros, making him an asset to the team's preferred puck possession game.