Yesterday, the National Hockey League revealed which teams are going to be picking at what spot for the upcoming draft. Considering that this was the first time the Chicago Blackhawks missed the playoffs in a decade, fans were closely monitoring which spot general manager Stan Bowman would be selecting from. There was hope that the team would land the number one pick in the NHL draft, and ultimately select defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, the overwhelming favorite for the first overall pick.
Ultimately, the ping pong balls did not fall in Chicago’s favor and they won the eighth overall spot. The NHL draft works differently than the NFL and MLB drafts, as the teams with the worst record are not automatically given the number one pick. The lottery system can be a bit confusing, but the main takeaway is that Chicago was guaranteed a top 10 pick, coming away with number eight.
According to Second City Hockey, the Chicago Blackhawks have had three previous selections at number eight. With those selections, they drafted Jimmy Waite, the current goaltending coach of the team, Jeremy Roenick and Mark Bell. Going further, Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times detailed who was taken with the eight overall pick in the past seven years.
There have been some big names, with William Nylander and Zach Werenski being taken in 2014 and 2015, respectively. However, what is also important to note is that Chicago will have two first-round selections this year, thanks to a trade with the Nashville Predators at the trade deadline.
Even though the Blackhawks other first rounder will be later, depending on how Nashville finishes the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it doesn’t automatically mean the talent pool is going to be evaporated. Chicago didn’t have a selection in the first round of the 2016 NHL draft, making their first pick at number 39. The player they took with that pick? Alex DeBrincat.
The head scout for the Chicago Blackhawks, Mark Kelley, noted that this is a strong class of players, even after Dahlin. However, whomever they pick will most likely not immediately step into a starting role. History backs this claim, as only 10 players chosen in the 2017 draft made their debuts, with only the top two picks playing in more than nine games. Most likely, the pick will a year or two of seasoning before stepping onto the United Center ice.
So, the biggest question is this: Who will the Blackhawks select? Right now, there are several options, including some standout defensemen. Lazerus suggests that the Blackhawks might select University of Michigan defenseman Quinn Hughes, Swedish defenseman Adam Boqvist or even Olvier Wahlstrom, a center for the U.S. National Development Team. Not every pick pans out as teams hope, but the Blackhawks will have a better chance of getting an impact player. Following that, what they do with their other first round selection could go a long way, as there is the possibility of finding a diamond in the rough.
Buckle up Hawks fans, because when the NHL draft comes — June 22nd in Dallas — the pressure will be on. The countdown is on.