The 2018 NHL Draft was this past weekend in Dallas. The two-day event was a chance for many teams to restock or reload their roster for next season and beyond. The Chicago Blackhawks had eight picks in the seven rounds and were expected to address many future needs after not making the playoffs last season. After winning the Stanley Cup in 2015, the Blackhawks suffered two straight years of first-round exits in the playoffs. Last season was an even bigger disappointment as the team failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2007-08. The handwriting was on the wall for many to see that the team was showing signs of decline.
Chicago Blackhawks Draft Addresses Defence Issues
One area of concern last season was the Blackhawks defence corps to defend. After Corey Crawford‘s season-ending injury in December, the rotation of goalies who played all struggled to make up for the continuous defensive lapses in front of them. They faced way too many tap-ins and one-timers in the slot while the defencemen struggled to protect the house.
After general manager Stan Bowman locked up his six defencemen for 2018-19, there were concerns things would not get better for the beleaguered net-minders. Based on last season’s defence corps performance, many expected the team to draft a near NHL ready defenceman with their pick at eighth overall. Many also wanted a skilled defenceman with size, size being something the Blackhawks lack in the tough Western Conference.
2018 Draft Day One
The Blackhawks had two picks in the first round of the draft, numbers 8 and 27. With the eighth pick they chose Adam Boqvist, and at number 27 they chose Nicolas Beaudin. Boqvist is 5-foot-11 and 165 pounds and Beaudin is 5-foot-10 and 172 pounds. Here are the Top Shelf Prospects profiles as done by Last Word’s own Ben Kerr. Be sure to click on the player’s names for their profile, Ben’s analysis, and a video highlight reel.
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. In terms of style, he plays a game that is reminiscent of John Klingberg, but this is a style comparison only and not one based on talent.”
Nicolas Beaudin: “Beaudin has the offensive skills to succeed at the next level, but needs to continue to work on his skating and defensive game. His late birthday and lack of size may be held against him on draft day, and it would not be a surprise to see him slip later than what we have him ranked. However, with good development, he could quarterback a team’s powerplay and play second pairing minutes at even strength. Beaudin’s game is reminiscent of former NHLer Tomas Kaberle but this is a style comparison only, and not one based on skill and ability.”
2018 Draft Day Fallout
Once the dust had settled last Friday night, there were two factions of fans lighting up social media. Many of the Blackhawks faithful were satisfied, while others were unimpressed and unhappy with Stan Bowman’s choices. The satisfied people were happy with the offensive potential of the two defence prospects, even if it was 1-3 years away. The unhappy people expected Bowman to draft a defenceman with size such as Evan Bouchard. They wanted a player who could make more of an immediate impact, not 1-3 years down the road.
There are some who also question Bowman’s ability to score big on draft night. After taking over as general manager for the storied franchise in 2009, Bowman’s draft record is definitely something causing concerns for the Blackhawk faithful. This is especially troubling when it comes to defencemen.
There’s a question circulating Chicago social media about this debate. “Name one defenceman drafted by Stan Bowman who has made an impact on the lineup?” Unless you count Stephen Johns drafted in 2010, the answer is zero. Unfortunately for this question, Johns is now playing for the Dallas Stars.
Do the Blackhawks fans have a right to be concerned about Bowman’s draft ability? Yes they do. After Dale Tallon was fired for the suspect “RFA debacle in the summer of 2009”, Bowman was given the keys to a franchise on the cusp of greatness. The foundation of talent he inherited was impressive. They went on the win three Stanley Cups in six seasons, a near-dynasty in today’s salary cap era.
Unfortunately, since 2010 Bowman has been unable to find a defence prospect or two that developed into a steady contributor. The list of defencemen drafted is quite uninspiring. At least one of Bowman’s defence picks from 2010-2014 should have blossomed by now and been a fixture on the Blackhawks back-end. Based on the obvious decline of Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith last season, the lack of draft success is a problem for the team and its fans.
Complete Draft Picture
As far as building for the future, the Chicago Blackhawks did have a good draft this past weekend. Here is the 2018 NHL Draft Grade as reviewed by Last Word’s own Ben Kerr. Be sure to click on the team link for the full review of all eight players chosen by the Blackhawks.
“The Hawks had a great draft. Boqvist has all the tools and potential to be a franchise defenseman at the NHL level, he just needs time. He is tremendous offensively. Beaudin has the offensive skills to succeed at the next level, but needs to continue to work on his skating and defensive game to get past his lack of size.”
Moving On After The Draft
Now that the 2018 NHL Draft has come and gone. Many in Chicago are happy with the success of the draft and its potential for the future. Others are not as cheerful and are concerned about the team’s ability to compete next season and erase away last year’s debacle. They are concerned about the decline of the team’s core and are wondering how many more years Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, and Brent Seabrook will get a chance to hoist the best trophy in sports; the Stanley Cup. For those concerned fans, the potential upcoming free agency signings may brighten their day. They are certainly all hoping Bowman delivers some good news soon.
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