Mark McNeill, the forward Chicago took 18th overall at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, was cut from training camp on Friday as the ‘Hawks trimmed their roster to 40 players.
Though he’s only 21 with just one full season of AHL experience, McNeill has gone through a slower developmental process than several of his draft mates. Of the first 20 picks at the ’11 draft, only three guys — McNeill, Buffalo’s Joel Armia and Colorado’s Duncan Seimens — have failed to make their NHL debuts, and it’s probably not helping McNeill that Brandon Saad, who Chicago took 43rd overall in that same draft, has emerged as a budding star and was a Calder finalist last year.
Saad isn’t the only prospect in the ‘Hawks system to pass McNeill, either. Chicago’s other ’11 first-rounder — Phillip Danault, who’s also pushing to crack the roster — survived today’s cuts and will remain with the team for the time being.
‘‘I know the Hawks are pretty full right now, so if a young player makes the team this year, it’s probably because they forced their hand, so that’s what I’m trying to do,’’ Danault said, per the Chicago Sun-Times. ‘‘It might be harder to make the team but once you’re in, it’s awesome.’’