Blackhawks Draft Recap, Century Club & Rumor Mill
Now that I've had some time to digest the Blackhawks draft weekend, the more pleased I am with their selections.
Initial grades score fairly well for Stan, Mark Kelley and Co. Here are a few:
Bleacher Report – A
The Athletic – B+
Sporting News – A-
In case you missed it, the Blackhawks selected:
8th - Adam Boqvist (D)
27th – Nicolas Beaudin (D)
69th – Jake Wise (C)
74th – Niklas Nordgren (RW)
120th – Phillipp Kurashev (C)
139th – Mikael Hakkarainen (C)
162nd – Alexis Gravel (G)
193rd – Josiah Slavin (LW)
The Hawks made a couple trades on Saturday, but not the types that some fans would have liked. Stan traded up in the 3rd round to ensure they grabbed Nordgren and in the 5th to select Hakkarainen.
Other than that, it was a fairly boring time as it relates to trades. I heard that some teams were frustrated at the lack of trading partners and that everything was being held up by Tavares, Kovalchuk, Karlsson type conversations.
Back to the draft quickly; I was totally sold based on what I heard that the Hawks were going to take Oliver Wahlstrom. I would have to think that the Hawks didn't believe Boqvist would be sitting there for them at 8th. Well, he was and they scooped him up.
It sure seems like of the available players left (Wahlstrom included), Boqvist has the most potential to be a game-breaker. Although Sportsnet out of Toronto commented that they had Bouchard and Dobson ranked higher and that the Hawks should have taken either before Boqvist, I think the correct choice was made.
The Blackhawks now have a collection of very nice defence prospects in their system. I will have a blog coming up on how this could play out in the future of the right-side D with the likes of Seabrook, Murphy and Rutta currently signed with Jokiharju, Mitchell in the wings. Stay tuned for that.
I know some people have been screaming from a mountain to try to get Stan to draft a 6'4 / 220 type prospect but it's obvious that they will look to find those guys in other places as they continue to draft for skill over size.
I also want to state that this notion that the Hawks only draft smaller players is a little overblown when you look at it. It's obvious they draft for skill first, and I for one, am happy they do or we wouldn't be watching Alex Debrincat right now.
To help visualize this, here are the last few years here is the breakdown of Blackhawks picks in the last 3 years:
2018 – 8 picks – 5'11 / 186 lbs
2017 – 9 picks – 5'11 / 178 lbs
2016 – 9 picks – 6'1 / 182 lbs
* Note that these are still kids as well. Adam Boqvist drafted at 5'11 / 168 lbs could very easily be 6'1 / 185 lbs by the time he hits the ice for the Blackhawks. Very average in today's NHL.
In comparison, I grabbed a few teams that I like to think have solid scouting and draft track records. Here's how they drafted for size this year:
2018 – Anaheim Ducks – 6'1 / 180 lbs
2018 – Philadelphia Flyers – 6'1 / 188 lbs
2018 – Tampa Bay Lightning – 6'2 / 188 lbs
I joked on Twitter that the Hawks future defence will be:
Keith – Boqvist
Beaudin – Jokiharju
some guy – Mitchell
So yes, with 3 smaller-to-average sized guys on the right-side, they will need more of a Dave Manson type opposite of them, which I think you can find. They will worry about that down the line. Also, keep in mind that RHD are treated like gold in the NHL, so don't discount a trade for one of these guys in the future.
It's exciting to think that there will be so much talent on the backend and looking at the above, the Hawks could have a different style of attack in a few years. Rather than relying on the forwards to carry the pace so much, the defence will likely be more than capable.
Overall, I am happy with the Hawks draft and appreciate all of the sophisticated and positive chatter on the message boards these last couple weeks. It's been a lot of fun.
I have included a fun appendix at the bottom of this blog on how the Hawks have drafted over the last few years based on nationality, league and position. The takeaway from those stats is that the Hawks are digging the QMJHL, knew they needed some love at Centre and are really spreading out by country (although they appear to be ramping up their Finnish picks).
My final take would be that Blackhawks 2018 Entry Draft will be defined by those first 4 picks of Boqvist, Beaudin, Wise (could be a steal) and Nordgren (pure sniper that looks like a value pick).
Now, moving on to some rumours and trade/free agency talk. I commented about Carter Hutton on Twitter (@JustinLoweHB) yesterday. I can confirm that the Hawks have reached out to him. My personal belief is he is going to be too expensive for what the Hawks would like to spend.
What is evident though is that the Hawks aren't going to go into the season with Anton Forsberg as their backup. If they do add a goalie, then expect to see them ship someone out of the crowded net depth (Crawford, Forsberg, Berube, Delia, Lankinen and Tomkins) signed for next year. I will have a goalie blog coming up but my initial prediction will be the Hawks will wait and grab a veteran back (like Ward, Pavelec or Chad Johnson) for a reasonable price on a short-term contract.
Also, hearing Hawks want to get feedback on a few free agents (Hutton and heard JVR, Neal and a "multiple defencemen" as well) before they go back to the trade market.
I've heard the Faulk proposal back from Carolina is a little rich for their blood right now. They want to see what the free agency route could look like for them.
That also affects Duclair and Jurco and their contract status. if there is mutual interest from a couple UFA forwards, I heard those guys will not be qualified. I suspect only 1 will be back anyway.
Finally, this is my 101st blog here on Hockeybuzz (#centuryclub). My goal was to come in here and provide a consistent number of blogs (I've been averaging 3 per week) as well as a consistent voice in the way I cover the Blackhawks.
It was also very important that I kept it fun and positive for everyone and give us all a place to kill some time when we should be working. There is so much negativity in the world today, I feel that we are all lucky that our biggest "issues" in the world is who will be the Blackhawks 2nd pairing defence or backup goalie next year. I hope you all feel the same. Let's keep this journey going.
See ya out there!
USA – 2018 (2), 2017 (2), 2016 (4)
CAN – 2018 (1), 2017 (2), 2016 (1)
SWE – 2018 (1), 2017 (1), 2016 (1)
FIN – 2018 (2), 2017 (2), 2016 (0)
RUS – 2018 (1), 2017 (1), 2016 (1)
CZE - 2018 (0), 2017 (1), 2016 (0)
GER - 2018 (1), 2017 (0), 2016 (0)
DEN – 2018 (0), 2017 (0), 2016 (1)
BEL – 2018 (0), 2017 (0), 2016 (1)
CHL – QMJHL (3)
CHL – WHL (1)
Czech Republic (1)
High School – Minnesota (1)
CHL – OHL (1), QMJHL (1)
C – 3
W – 2
D – 2
G – 1
C – 2
W – 2
D – 5
G – 0
C – 1
W – 3
D – 4
G – 1