Sources: The Athletic, Dobber Prospects, Elite Prospects, FC Hockey, Last Word on Sports, Lines, Recruit Scouting, Scouching Report, Smaht Scouting, The Draft Analyst, The Hockey News, The Hockey Writers
Today's blog is a preview to the NHL draft which starts this evening with Round 1 then Rounds 2-7 are tomorrow. We will look at a predicted top 10 plus a final outlook on who the Blackhawks could consider in all rounds where they have picks.
Here's my prediction of the top 10 before it's Chicago's turn at the virtual podium when the 11th spot comes up. The Hawks technically have the 12th spot while the Coyotes have the 11th spot but Arizona forfeits due to sanctions from past infractions.
1st: Owen Power, D (Sabres)
2nd: Matthew Beniers, C (Kraken)
3rd: William Eklund, LW (Ducks)
4th: Dylan Guenther, RW (Devils)
5th: Simon Edvinsson, D (Blue Jackets)
6th: Kent Johnson, C (Red Wings)
7th: Mason McTavish, C (Sharks)
8th: Sebastian Cossa, G (Kings)
9th: Luke Hughes, D (Canucks)
10th: Brandt Clarke, D (Senators)
Of course, there will always be a surprise or two to be taken much earlier than forecasted. Such surprises could be Chaz Lucius, Fabian Lysell, or Cole Sillinger. Jesper Wallstedt could also join Sebastian Cossa to be a pair of goalies taken in the top 10.
On the other side of the coin are prospects who fall down the chart. Brandt Clarke could be one of them or longshot possibilities are Kent Johnson or Luke Hughes similar to how Alex Newhook (2019) and Noah Dobson (2018) fell out of the top 10 on draft day.
Then there are those draftees who come out of left field like Yegor Chinakhov who the Blue Jackets took at 21st overall in last year's draft when he was projected to go in the 3rd round or later. The Hawks also surprised many last year taking Lukas Reichel at 17th.
After more review of scouting reports and highlight videos, I have revised my list of hopefuls for the Hawks to consider selecting with the 11th overall pick. I have marked with an asterisk those draftees who I originally had on my list but think they will go top 10.
* Nikita Chibrikov (RW)
* Matthew Coronato (LW)
* Sebastian Cossa (G) *
* Carson Lambos (D)
* Chaz Lucius (C)
* Fabian Lysell (RW)
* Mason McTavish (C) *
* Cole Sillinger (C)
* Fyodor Svechkov (C)
* Jesper Wallstedt (G)
Added to my final list are Carson Lambos, Matthew Coronato, and Lysell. After Owen Power and Simon Edvinsson, Lambos may be the next best all-around D-man in the draft ahead of Hughes and Clarke who are great offensively but need much improvement defensively.
I never had a problem with Coronato but I didn't rate him as going in the opening round despite draft pundits projecting that he would go in the first half of Round 1. He's a goal scorer who competes hard but has been criticized as not being an explosive skater.
Lysell has definitely grown on me over the past few weeks as I delved deeper into his profile. His character issues that scared me off may be misperception or mischaracterization by some scouts. All that aside, he's an energetic forechecker who is more of a playmaker than sniper.
From my list, the safest pick would be Fyodor Svechkov who is so good defensively and makes an impact in the offensive zone but may not pile up points. Like Anton Lundell last year, Svechkov is at the very least a stellar 3C but could bust out as an eventual 2C in the NHL.
While the offensive prowess of Lucius and Lysell are attractive, I do wonder how they will be without the puck as a pro. Will they be liabilities? Will they just float and not contribute? Will they be fine and actually be dependable when the play is in their end?
I don't have that apprehension with Nikita Chibrikov or Sillinger as far as contributing in all zones. What I do have a concern with is that both of them have been known to take shifts off. When they're on, they're forces. But when they're off, they're inconsequential.
Compared to Lucius and Lysell, Coronato is a lot better in the defensive zone but not outstanding either. His game may actually translate to what we see from Brandon Hagel, i.e. a top 9 forward who is a relentless forechecker with a nose-over-puck mentality.
Then there's the goalie question. Honestly, I think Wallstedt has a strong chance of cracking the top 10 along with Cossa which would mean someone like Mason McTavish, Johnson, Hughes, or Clarke falls, in which case the Hawks should nab whoever that may happen to be.
In the end if all things are considered equal in the "best player available" analysis and selection is based instead on positional need, I would take:
* Sillinger if the Hawks want a forward because of his total package as a power forward who can score, be tough to contain, and make an impact in all zones. Working his way to the pros plus having a father who knows what it takes to succeed in the NHL could solve his inconsistency issue.
* Lambos if the Hawks want a defenseman because of his all-around game as a blueliner who can defend, transition the puck, and join the rush. He may not project to be a #1 but could have a ceiling as a #2 and a floor as an anchor to the 2nd pair who can also play special teams.
* Wallstedt if the Hawks want a goalie. I'd actually prefer Cossa but think he goes in the top 10. Even then, there's a growing possibility that Wallstedt also goes top 10. Regardless, they are both being predicted to be NHL starters. Tough to say no if that's the case.
As mentioned earlier, the Hawks could surprise again like they did last year with Reichel and "go off the board" to take someone who is projected to be a late 1st rounder or a 2nd rounder. There are several to pay attention to including:
* Sean Behrens (D)
* Zach Bolduc (C)
* Xavier Bourgault (RW)
* Sasha Pastujov (RW)
* Jack Peart (D)
* Aatu Raty (C)
* Simon Robertsson (RW)
* Isak Rosen (LW)
* Logan Stankoven (C)
After 1st Round
After Round 1, the Hawks have the following picks:
* 2nd round x2
* 3rd round none
* 4th round x2
* 5th round none
* 6th round x1
* 7th round x2
In Rounds 2-7, it's more about whether draftees check off as many boxes as possible rather than having impressive skill packages that you want to see in 1st rounders. What are those boxes? Here's a checklist of traits to consider:
* Compete level
* Defensive conscience
* Offensive contributor
* Team player
* Consistency and reliability
* Skates well or can make up for deficiency in other ways
Based on this checklist, here's a list of draftees to consider in the 2nd round or hope they're around when the Hawks pick again in the 4th round in addition to any of the aforementioned 1st round hopefuls described earlier who may fall into the 2nd round or later.
* Jackson Blake (RW)
* Tyler Boucher (RW)
* Colton Dach (LW)
* Dylan Duke (C)
* Samuel Helenius (C)
* Alexander Kisakov (C)
* Prokhor Poltapov (RW)
* Red Savage (C)
* Chase Stillman (RW)
* Vinny Iorio (D)
* Kirill Kirsanov (D)
* Oscar Plandowski (D)
Then here's a list of draftees to consider for after the 2nd round, keeping in mind that the Hawks don't have a 3rd round pick but perhaps they acquire one right before or during the draft.
* Ethan Cardwell (C)
* Josh Doan (RW)
* Florian Elias (C)
* Liam Gilmartin (LW)
* Justin Janicke (LW)
* Wyatt Johnston (C)
* Oliver Kapanen (C)
* Riley Kidney (C)
* Ayrton Martino (LW)
* Justin Robidas (C)
* Connor Roulette (LW)
* Martin Rysavy (C)
* Samu Salminen (C)
* Victor Stjernborg (C)
* William Stromgren (LW)
* Ryan Winterton (C)
* Trevor Wong (LW)
* Nolan Allan (D)
* Daniil Chayka (D)
* Kalle Ervasti (D)
* Artem Grushnikov (D)
* Aidan Hreschuk (D)
* Dmitry Kuzmin (D)
* Aleksi Malinen (D)
* Joel Nystrom (D)
* Anton Olsson (D)
* Guillaume Richard (D)
* Stanislav Svozil (D)
* Ryan Ufko (D)
* Cameron Whynot (D)
* Olen Zellweger (D)
* Brett Brochu (G)
* Benjamin Gaudreau (G)
* Tristan Lennox (G)
* Arseni Sergeyev (G)
Results from the poll on who you all think the Hawks will take with their 1st pick:
* Cole Sillinger, 27.50% of the votes
* Chaz Lucius, 16.67%
* Fabian Lysell, 13.33%
* Jesper Wallstedt, 12.50%
* Mason McTavish, 9.17%
* Sebastian Cossa, 6.67%
* Matthew Coronato, 4.17%
* Fyodor Svechkov, 4.17%
* Aatu Raty, 2.50%
* Nikita Chibrikov, 0.83%
* Colton Dach, 0.83
* Luke Hughes, 0.83%
* Matthew Samoskevich, 0.83%
According to Elliotte Friedman from Sportsnet, the Blackhawks and Blue Jackets are continuing to plug away at trying to finalize a deal involving Seth Jones. This iteration, though, doesn't require either Kirby Dach or Alex DeBrincat to be part of the trade package.
In recent rumors, the Jackets are said to be preferring players -- specifically centers -- versus prospects and picks. If Dach is out of the mix and it's safe to assume Jonathan Toews isn't being asked to waive his NMC, then that leaves a few other options to consider.
Dylan Strome, David Kampf, and Henrik Borgstrom are the natural centers. Kampf can be ruled out unless he's an extra piece tagging along with more coveted personnel. Strome and Borgstrom are young enough at 24 and 23 years old to still optimize their talents.
Something to ask is what defines a player and what defines a prospect. Is Adam Boqvist a player even though he has yet to play a full season in two years? What about Wyatt Kalynuk, Ian Mitchell, and Nicolas Beaudin? They've collectively played a total of 80 NHL games.
As far as wingers not named Patrick Kane, Dominik Kubalik, Alex Nylander, Pius Suter, Philipp Kurashev, and Hagel come to mind as players with at least one season -- albeit a shortened one for most of them -- under their belts who may be of interest to the Jackets.
One way to view whether it would be palatable to give up certain players in a trade to obtain Jones is whether those players have a replacement in the system who is either just as good or could possibly be better once they reach the NHL and hit potential.
Dylan Strome: Oddly, a replacement for him could be Borgstrom yet one or both of them as pivots could be part of the package for Jones.
Henrik Borgstrom: See comment above about Strome but also consider that Reichel is the only other top 6 prospect albeit as a natural winger.
Dominik Kubalik: The only prospect who is viewed as a goal scorer is Michal Teply but he has a lot left to prove and work on in the AHL.
Alex Nylander: There's fear that he will fail to reach his potential and Suter, Kurashev, or Hagel could already be his replacement.
Pius Suter: Like Strome and Borgstrom, a replacement for him could be Kurashev as both can play wing and center in a top 9 role.
Philipp Kurashev: See comment above about Suter but also consider that there's a similar prospect in the pipeline in Jake Wise.
Brandon Hagel: Not a dime-a-dozen role player due to his freakish compete level and endless motor but Andrei Altybarmakian approximates.
Adam Boqvist: Besides Kalynuk who is more of a cerebral technician, no other D prospect has the same dynamism as a puck moving rearguard.
Wyatt Kalynuk: The prospect who could give him a run for his money is the other Wyatt as Wyatt Kaiser is almost a carbon copy.
Ian Mitchell: Despite his growing pains, nobody battles like he does except possibly Alex Vlasic who has lower offensive upside.
Nicolas Beaudin: Of the current 4 horsemen on the blueline, he could be the most expendable and later replaced by Chad Krys or Jakub Galvas.
Toews & Nylander
It's no surprise that Nylander is at full capacity after surgery and rehab. The question for him is whether the Blackhawks will re-sign him to a reasonable extension on perhaps a 1-2 year "show me" deal to prove he can bounce back from injury and realize his potential.
Another scenario is to trade him this offseason. His inconsistent effort and lack of pace when previously healthy was not only uninspiring but also ill-fitting with the team persona of high work ethic and compete level that head coach Jeremy Colliton desires.
If Nylander is on the chopping block, the likelihood is low for another prospect-for-prospect trade like the one that brought him over from Buffalo in exchange for Henri Jokiharju. The more realistic return would be a draft pick or two in the middle rounds.
In terms of the captain, general manager Stan Bowman's statement about him supports the notion that Toews' health is still touch and go due to his Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome. The key term is chronic which means he will grapple with this his whole life.
As a result of the chronicity of his ailment and the fact that he sat out the entire past season, Toews isn't going to be shy to tell management and coaches when he's not fit to play and stay away from the team until he's ready to return to play hockey.
The ongoing uncertainty of Toews is one reason why center depth needs to be conserved -- if not enhanced -- rather than reduced this offseason. Thus, trading a center or two to Columbus for Jones may not be a smart proposition to sign on the dotted line for.
One thing to note about the NHL regular season schedule is that there's a revised version in the back pocket in case there's no agreement between the NHL and International Olympic Committee (IOC) for NHL players to play in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
The above tweet is a summary of key dates on the NHL calendar for 2021-22 as well as a breakdown of how many times each team plays other teams within their own division, other teams in the other division within the same conference, and other teams in the other conference.
Blackhawks defenseman prospect Isaak Phillips is impacted by this pending NHL-CHL agreement. He's on a good growth trajectory in the AHL so it's best he continues with the IceHogs in 2021-22. If he doesn't get an NHL or AHL contract, he returns to the Sudbury Wolves (OHL).
In contrast, fellow blueliner and 2020 draftee Michael Krutil recently signed an AHL deal. However, unlike Phillips, Krutil struggled mightily to keep up with pro speed and rigor getting himself in over his head. Instead, he should be developing with the Kelowna Rockets (WHL).
See you on the boards!