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Fortin out to impress Blackhawks again at Traverse City

Forward prospect more confident after turning development camp invitation into contract last year

by Brian Hedger / Correspondent

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Chicago Blackhawks forward prospect Alexandre Fortin is feeling even better than he did last year going into the 2017 Traverse City Prospects Tournament, which starts at Centre Ice Arena on Friday.

A strong performance last year in Traverse City boosted Fortin, 20, to a strong training camp with the Blackhawks and an entry-level contract.

"I'm more confident, but I know that it's another year," Fortin said. "I just have to start all over again and do the same thing I did last year."

Fortin, who was passed on twice in the NHL Draft (2015, 2016), was invited to Blackhawks development camp last year and led with five goals in three scrimmages. That earned him a spot on the Traverse City roster, where he had a Blackhawks-best two goals in four games.

During Blackhawks training camp, he had three points (two goals, one assist) in five preseason games, and agreed to terms on a three-year entry-level contract on Sept. 25, 2016.

The Blackhawks returned Fortin to Rouyn-Noranda of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and he had 52 points (22 goals, 30 assists) in 52 games, his best offensive numbers in three seasons. He was second on the Huskies with 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) in 13 QMJHL playoff games. But Fortin also focused on his defensive play, and was plus-18. He added size and strength to his 6-foot, 175-pound frame.

Video: CHI@DET: Fortin's break puts Blackhawks on the board

Now he wants to show that the added weight won't affect the speed and skill that earned him a contract.

"My mom says it's just natural," he said. "That might be, but I did it, so now I just have to keep on the same weight, [add] more speed and work on stuff that will help me to be a better hockey player."

There aren't as many opportunities for Blackhawks rookies as last season, but there will be plenty of competition during training camp. Fortin, who likely will begin his professional career this season, is determined to earn one.

"I think it's all mental," he said. "We talk a lot about [mental approach]. It's not where you rank. It's just how you think. The only person who will make you NHL ready is yourself."

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