The NHL Draft is always a fun time of the year. Meeting the new prospects, watching highlights, and thinking of the potential lineups down the road. The Blackhawks made eight selections over the weekend. Let’s see how they did.
Defenseman. A position of glaring need for the Blackhawks. Stan Bowman told the media after the season concluded that the team will go “best player available” in the June draft. There were very good prospects available at eight for the Blackhawks, particularly Oliver Wahlstrom, a 48 goal scorer for the U-18 U.S. National team this past season. But there were other plans.
Bowman made a pick that may have surprised some people. He selected Adam Boqvist, a 17 year old defeseman from Sweeden. Who does he compare himself to you may ask? You guessed it, Erik Karlsson.
“A dynamic offensive defenceman that can carry plays with the puck on his stick. A highly mobile and nimble skater that moves with fluidity, balance, and confidence. Utilizes an active stick and creates turnovers frequently. Could be more proactive in his own end, but has shown progression in understanding lanes and reading unfolding plays;”- eliteprospects.com on Boqvist
Boqvist is years away from seeing the United Center ice. He will play with Brynas, a member of the Swedish Hockey League, on his one-year deal. After that is a mystery right now but will likely come over to North America.
From what I’ve watched, Boqvist is very skilled in the offensive zone. There is a lot to be excited about and keeping up with his development will be entertaining. The Blackhawks have a solid group of young defenseman in their system and it’s promising for the future of the club.
There were multiple reports that the Blackhawks were shopping the 27th overall pick for a top-four defensemen. The blue line last season was not a pretty sight. Keith and Seabrook are showing their age. Connor Murphy played quiet poorly and the advanced metrics back it up. Jan Rutta, Erik Gustafsson, Jordan Oesterle had their ups and downs but going into the offseason, it had to be addressed. And so far, the roster is the same. I do not believe they will return with the same group next season because that speaks the same results.
It did not appear that any deals were close and Bowman hinted before Round 1 got underway that they were not close to any deals.
So with the 27th pick, the Blackhawks chose defenseman Nicolas Beaudin out of the QMJHL. An 18 year old, left shot defenseman recently finished up his third season with the Drummondville Voltigeurs, scoring 12 goals and adding 57 assists in 68 games.
“diminutive yet cunning defenceman that is able to use his size to his advantage. His mobility is all but elite at this point; he primarily uses his speed to open up passing and shooting lanes in the offensive zone. With and without the puck he stays composed and in-position, allowing him to analyze situations effortlessly and make those calculated decisions.” eliteprospects.com
Just like Boqvist, Beaudin may be years away from joining the Blackhawks. But both are solid picks and add to the promising core of young defenseman in the Blackhawks system.
Rounds 3-7 were highlighted by three centers. Jake Wise is the top name out of the group. The 18 year old had 21 goals and 45 assists last season with the U-18 US National Team. He has committed to Boston University.
One NHL scout said, “Wise is an excellent pick by the Blackhawks. He’s a good two way forward with playmaking ability. He’s really strong and hard to knock off the puck.”
The thing with the Blackhawks and drafting centers is a majority of them never play center. John Hayden is the latest center to break into the Blackhawks lineup and eventually play wing. The college and pro games are very different obviously but you hope Wise can flourish as a center once he joins the Blackhawks.
- Stan Bowman is still actively trying to trade Marian Hossa’s contract. The deal has three years left and carries a cap hit of $5.275 million. Hossa is owed $1M in salary per year. The hope is someone will need his contract to reach the cap floor of $58.8M at some point this offseason.
- The Blackhawks are not one of the five teams who will meet with John Tavares. The 27 year old center will meet with Dallas, San Jose, Toronto, Tampa, Boston and of course the New York Islanders.
- Anthony Duclair, Tomas Jurco, Anthony Clendening, or Michael Chaput are not expected to receive offers from the Blackhawks.