The upcoming NHL Draft in June will give the Chicago Blackhawks a chance to draft a player who could potentially make the opening night roster. The Blackhawks have the eighth overall pick in the first round. This is the highest draft pick they’ve had in years. After a dismal 2017-18 NHL season, the Blackhawks future success is riding on their first choice being a great one.
Over the next six weeks, the potential draft choices for the Blackhawks future will be featured here at Last Word on Hockey. The players will be highlighted based on their potential to help the Blackhawks sooner rather than later. While the Blackhawks have the eighth pick in the draft, they also have a late first-round pick acquired in the Ryan Hartman trade with the Nashville Predators. These two picks are key to improving the team after missing the playoffs this season. After the two first round picks, the Blackhawks will have six more picks in rounds 3-7.
Blackhawks Draft Targets – Part 1
Based on the team’s needs, the first players discussed will be defencemen. Improving the Blackhawks defense corps is imperative for a successful 2018-19 season. Each player will be highlighted with a link to the LastWordOnHockeyProspects.com site. The player’s link also includes a video compilation from YouTube with their highlights. Be sure to check these out for a great glimpse at a potential Blackhawks future star.
Looking at the NHL Mock draft from Last Word’s own Ben Kerr, there are five defencemen in the top eight picks. Rasmus Dahlin is a lock to be taken at number one overall by the Buffalo Sabres, so he’s off the board. After Dahlin, the next top defencemen are Adam Boqvist at #4, Quinn Hughes #5, Noah Dobson #6, and Evan Bouchard at #8.
Knowing how general manager Stan Bowman likes to be aggressive, the Blackhawks may try to move up in the draft to get their first choice. The pressure is on Bowman to make amends for how poorly his previous off-season moves worked out. Expectations are high for this summer’s rebuild beginning with the NHL Draft in June.
Be sure to click the players names for links to their Last Word page and video highlights.
Projected Defencemen Draft Picks
At number four – Adam Boqvist:
“It is likely that Boqvist needs a bit more development time, as he needs to bulk up. He has struggled as a 17-year-old while playing in the Swedish Men’s leagues, and so making the jump to the NHL immediately seems unlikely. Expect to spend another year overseas, and to be a big part of the Swedish team at the World Juniors. Boqvist has all the tools and potential to be a franchise defenseman at the NHL level, he just needs time.”
At number 5 – Quinn Hughes:
“Hughes can be an elite offensive and puck-moving defenceman at the next level. He should quarterback the power play and lead the rush. The defensive game is a question mark, and how much he can improve in the next couple of years will determine if he is a first pairing defenceman at even strength or more of a second pairing player. Hughes will likely head back to college for his sophomore season, as he is probably not going to be NHL ready this fall.”
At number 6 – Noah Dobson:
“Dobson can stand to improve his upper body strength and be more effective in physical battles and get even more power on his shot. There is time for the 18-year-old to add muscle to a skinny frame. He may need a year or two of development time, but he has the potential to be a number one defenceman at the NHL level, playing both the power play and the penalty kill, and taking on other team’s top lines.”
At number 8 – Evan Bouchard:
“Bouchard could become a top defenceman at the next level, however, it is more likely that with his defensive issues, he is more of a second pair player. He can be a real threat on the power play though, and should be able to put up points if he properly develops. In terms of style, Bouchard’s game is reminiscent of Brent Burns. This is a style comparison only, not one based on talent level.”
These are the top four defencemen in the NHL Draft after Rasmus Dahlin goes at number one. The Blackhawks need a solid defenceman to join their young D lines. The question is whether Bowman moves up to take a higher pick. If they end up staying at number eight, Bouchard would be a solid pick. At 6′ 2″ and 192 pounds, he already has the size and will surely add pounds as he develops. His offensive skills last season for the London Knights were also an eye-catcher. In just 67 games, Bouchard had 25 goals and 87 points. He may take some time in the AHL to develop his game, but he appears to have the potential to be a top four D man for the Blackhawks.
In the next Blackhawks Draft Targets article we will discuss what the Blackhawks may be able to do with their second first-round draft pick. They may be able to parlay that pick into an NHL-ready player depending on potential offers from other teams during the draft.
Main Image Credit: