The Chicago Blackhawks draft twice in the first round of the 2018 NHL draft being held on June 22nd. They have the eighth overall pick and the 27th pick acquired from the Nashville Predators in the Ryan Hartman trade. Having two first-round picks gives the Blackhawks some flexibility. As covered in part one of the Chicago Blackhawks Draft Targets article, the team should try to draft a defencemen who can improve their D corps immediately. Evan Bouchard fits that need, and would be a solid pick at number eight.
Blackhawks Draft Targets – Part Two
Options With Second Pick #27
What the Blackhawks must decide is what to do with the pick acquired from Nashville. The Blackhawks have several options. They can go for another defencemen to prepare for a future without Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. If needed, they can draft the best available player at the 27th pick. They can also package the 27th pick in a trade to another team looking to improve their draft position. We’re going to cover all of these options available for the Blackhawks at the draft.
Adding Defense Talent
As covered by Last Word’s own Ben Kerr, here are the top defense prospects that may be available when the Blackhawks pick at 27th. Be sure to click on the players name to get their Last Word Page and video highlights.
“Miller is a bit of a project, but one with high upside. Expect for him to spend at least two years at the NCAA level, and perhaps a year in the AHL after that. With good coaching he can be a highly effective defenceman at both ends of the ice. As mentioned, putting a ceiling on him is difficult, as he is still learning the position and has come so far, in such a short time. The tools are there, and it will be up to his coaches to refine them. Miller’s style is reminiscent of Morgan Rielly, but this is a style comparison only, and not one based on talent or ability.”
“Sandin may not become a franchise defenseman at the NHL level, but with proper time and patience, he can be an effective top-four player, who contributes in all situations. Since his deal is a loan, it is unclear if he will be back in the OHL next season, or back with Rogle BK. In any event, he needs two or three years of development before he’s ready for the NHL. His game is reminiscent of Jake Muzzin but this is purely a stylistic comparison and does not include ability or potential.”
“Alexeyev does a lot of things well. There are a couple of things he can work on, but most aspects of his game are good. The difficulty here is finding one skill where he will be elite. There is a collection of good tools here, but no great one. Alexeyev projects as a potential second pairing defender, who can play in all situations. In terms of style, Alexeyev’s game is reminiscent of Jonas Brodin, but this is not intended to be a projection of his abilities.”
Best Available Player Option
If the Blackhawks decide to go with a forward instead of defenseman, here’s who may be available.
“With continued development, McLeod could become a two-way middle-six centre in the NHL. The question here is the upside. It is doubtful that he has enough offensive tools to centre a top line. However, he could fit in nicely on a second line, providing secondary offence and matching the other teams top line. As a late birthdate player, expect him to spend one more year in junior and then move on to the NHL In terms of style, his game is reminiscent of Ryan Kesler, but without the great shot.”
“Olofsson projects as a second or third line centre in the NHL, if he can continue his development. He could be the type of player that coaches trust in all situations, and play big minutes. He will need some time to be NHL ready, and it is likely that he spends at least one more season overseas. Olofsson is still growing and putting muscle on his frame. Once he makes his way to North America, he likely needs a bit of AHL time as well. Olofsson’s game is comparable to Ryan O’Reilly, but this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on talent or ability.”
“Noel has huge potential, as his combination of size and skill is very intriguing. He is still a bit of a project though, with refinements needed in his skating, stickhandling, and being a consistent threat in the offensive end. Already possessing a strong defensive game, and combining that with good size, Noel likely has a future in the NHL. However, the questions remain about exactly how high his ceiling can be, and if he can reach it. Stylistically, Noel’s game is reminiscent of James van Riemsdyk, but this is not to be taken as a projection of ability.”
Trading Pick #27
The Chicago Blackhawks are in a position to trade their second first-round pick. Looking at the draft order this year, two teams stand out who may be willing to make a deal to move up. The Calgary Flames and the Nashville Predators do not have a pick in the first two rounds of the draft this year. Calgary dealt away their first and second round picks in the Travis Hamonic trade with the New York Islanders last summer. The Nashville Predators dealt their first-round pick to the Blackhawks in the Ryan Hartman trade. They also dealt their second-round pick to the Colorado Avalanche in the Kyle Turris trade last November.
The Blackhawks may be able to pry away one of their prospects who are on the edge of NHL maturity. Adding a player who is almost ready for the NHL would save development time for the Blackhawks who are in rebuild mode. Rasmus Andersson of the Flames and Alexandre Carrier of the Predators would be two defense prospects the Blackhawks could target. Both are promising players signed under entry level contracts through 2019-20 with friendly cap hits. Andersson is at $755,833 per season and Carrier at $688,333. They also face a tough time cracking the starting defense lineup for either team who are stacked on the back end.
Trading #27 = Cap Room Bonus
An interesting rumor going around Chicago involves the Blackhawks trading Brent Seabrook and his cap hit of 6.785 million through the 2023-24 season. Seabrook has contributed so much to the Blackhawks and their three Stanley Cups. Unfortunately, he is on the downside of his career and his cap hit is a problem. John Romando of SportsMockery.com has an interesting theory on moving Brent Seabrook and his 6.785 million cap hit to an “old friend.”
“Now I know what you’re saying: there’s no way anyone would want to trade for Brent Seabrook. Believe it or not, this actually may not be true. There is one man, who has deep ties to the Chicago Blackhawks, who is very much in the market for a veteran defenseman. That man’s name is Dale Tallon.”
“For those of you that don’t know, Tallon was the Blackhawks GM from 2005-2009. In many ways, he was the one responsible for the dynasty the Blackhawks became having drafted the likes of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, while also signing guys such as Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp. His history with the Blackhawks is both personal and extensive.”
While Tallon indeed has deep ties to the Blackhawks core, he will need some convincing to take on Seabrook. The Blackhawks adding in the 27th overall pick may help as well as retaining some salary in the deal. Whatever it takes, getting more cap room would set up the Blackhawks nicely for the upcoming 2018 free agent market.
Round One Done
Round one will be an interesting adventure for the Blackhawks. General manager Stan Bowman will have to decide what to do after the team picks eighth. The need to improve their defence corps now is imperative for the team. After they do that with their first pick, Bowman will have some options for #27.
The next piece will highlight draft prospects at the forward position. This will involve a look at the current Blackhawks prospects in development and potential draft targets.
Previous article – Blackhawks Draft Targets Part 1
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