It’s an early night for Stan Bowman.
The Chicago Blackhawks GM was on hand in Toronto tonight as Deputy Commissioner Bill Daley announced the 15th through 4th overall picks in this year’s NHL Draft. The Blackhawks will pick eighth overall, falling one spot from entering the lottery in the seventh position.
Here are the results for picks 15 through 4:
9. NY Rangers
11. NY Islanders
12. NY Islanders (via Calgary)
14. Philadelphia (via St. Louis)
The Buffalo Sabres, the Montreal Canadiens and the Carolina Hurricanes are still waiting for their fates to be determined, as the announcement of who gets the first, second and third overall picks will not happen until the second intermission of Game 2 between the San Jose Sharks and the Vegas Golden Knights.
Bowman and Blackhawks Head of Scouting Mark Kelley have their work cut out for them between tonight and June 22nd. Long considered to be a deep draft, the Hawks have a chance to draft a young prospect that can arguably be NHL ready as soon as this fall.
Here is a recent history of players chosen with the eighth overall pick:
2017: Lias Andersson (NYR)
2016: Alex Nylander (BUF)
2015: Zach Werenski (CBJ)
2014: William Nylander (TOR)
2013: Rasmus Ristolainen (BUF)
2012: Derrick Pouliot (PIT)
2011: Sean Couturier (PHL)
Evan Bouchard, a 6-foot-2, 193 pound, 18 year old right handed defenseman, who currently plays for the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League, is the consensus pick to go eighth in the draft. He is a highly-intelligent, all around d-man. His shoots the puck a ton and is effective in all kinds of situations, especially if the situation calls for him to join the rush up-ice. With his size, think of him as a slightly smaller Dustin Byfuglien with the offensive prowess of Erik Karlsson. He netted 87 points (25 goals, 62 assists) in 67 games with London this season.
Another name the Hawks have available for them at number 8 is Quinn Hughes. Hughes, who just finished his freshman season with the University of Michigan Wolverines, is 5-foot-10 and a 170 pound defenseman who shoots left. His puck-handling prowess gives him a lot of upside with playing QB on the powerplay, but also has the capability to limit the opposition’s time and space when playing without the puck, which is indicative to possible success if he gets some time on the penalty kill. He is also very effective in the neutral zone, limiting not only the other team’s time and space but their options on the ice as well.
Hughes was just named to Team USA’s roster for the upcoming IIHF World Championships in Denmark this May. Bowman and Kelley will have an early opportunity to not only see Hughes in action against NHL-calibre players, but to see his chemistry with the four Blackhawks players that will be his teammates in Copenhagen, namely team captain Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat, Connor Murphy and Jordan Oesterle.
Bouchard and Hughes are only two of many other prospects that the Blackhawks can draft in June. Also, bear in mind that Bowman also has Nashville’s first round pick, which he got for Ryan Hartman along with Victor Ejdsell. With his two first round picks and the potential of having the most cap room he’s ever had since becoming GM, Bowman has a lot of options to work with this summer, making this off-season even more exciting for us fans.