CHICAGO -- Alex Vlasic knows all eyes are on his skating.
Selected by the Chicago Blackhawks in the second round (No. 43) of the 2019 NHL Draft, Vlasic (6-foot-6, 199 pounds) has prepared for it.
"It's going to be tougher for me to move my feet faster or just as fast as the smaller players, but I think I do a pretty good job of it," the 18-year-old defenseman prospect said at Blackhawks development camp last week. "I do work on it a lot so if I can just continue to progress the way I've been going I think I should be fine."
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Vlasic, a native of Wilmette, Illinois, has curbed his own timeline for turning pro and already impressed Chicago general manager Stan Bowman.
"Yeah, he's pretty smooth," Bowman said. "I think that's always the challenge with guys that big. He covers a lot of ground with his reach but his skating, he's kept up quite well being one of the youngest guys here.
"He's tough to play against, he defends really well and I think that's a strength of this guy. So I think it's just going to be a progression for him.
"He seems to have a pretty good understanding of his path and he's not trying to make the NHL [right now]. He understands he's got some growth to do and I think those are the players that end up figuring it out as he's got a good idea of what it's going to take to become an NHL player."
Video: Vlasic on first Development Camp
Vlasic is in summer school at Boston University and plans on attending the college for two to three years before trying to turn pro.
He's latched on to other Blackhawks prospects with Boston ties.
"I've been friends with [Jake Wise] one or two years now," Vlasic said. "He played at the program as well, he's a year older than me. I've been hanging out with him, been chatting it up with Chad Kyrs as well, an ex-BU player, so it's been pretty comfortable for me."
Having his first development camp with the Blackhawks in a familiar setting (Fifth Third Arena) also made the experience more comfortable.
"Yeah, it's pretty nice," Vlasic said. "I've been to this rink quite a few times so figuring out my way around hasn't been too much of a struggle for me. Also seeing some of the people I know up in the stands is pretty cool to just be back home."
The defenseman had 27 points (four goals, 23 assists) in 61 games with USA Hockey National Team Development Program last year.
"I think our team last year obviously had a ton of success," Vlasic said. "We had eight first-rounders or something like that. So a ton of those guys are just as good, if not better than a lot of the guys I'll probably ever play against. So to feel how that was last year, it's pretty nice to see what that'll be like in the future."
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