For the first time since 2014, the Chicago Blackhawks had a first round pick (amongst nine total picks) to make on draft day. They spread those out geographically, choosing two players each from Canada, Finland and the United States while adding one each from Russia, Sweden and the Czech Republic. Overall, they chose five defencemen and four forwards and they all have one thing in common; they are all above average skaters. Here’s a look at those picks.
Henri Jokiharju– 1st round, 29th overall
When asked to describe his selection, General Manager Stan Bowman used phrases like “ plays a modern style of hockey. Great skill set, good skater. Can handle the puck and make plays. I guess what you would term a modern-day defenseman.” After the embarrassing sweep at the hands of the Predators, Chicago needed to address team speed, especially from the blueline, and have done just that, while adding a player with on ice smarts, to a depleted corp of defencemen.
Ian Mitchell- 2nd round, 57th overall
Sticking with their theme for this draft, the Blackhawks chose another smooth skating, “modern” style defenceman. Described as having a high skillset and competitiveness along with quick hands, Mitchell has committed to the University of Denver where his progress will be monitored. He could help his stock by adding some size to his 5-10, 165 lbs frame and playing a little more physically.
Andrei Altybarmakyan- 3rd round, 70th overall
The Blackhawks used the pick they gained in a trade with Dallas to nab the electrifying Russian winger. While not huge in stature, he can play a tough game when it’s called for but is at his best when creating offence. The Russian factor is real and may prevent us from seeing him in North America any time soon but if/when he does arrive, look out goalies. Huge talent with big offensive upside.
Evan Barratt- 3rd round, 90th overall
Drafting another forward was easy when Barratt was still on the board. He’s a highly skilled, shoot first center with a NHL caliber wrist shot and great one-timer. Barratt isn’t afraid to play in the dirty areas and has the added appeal of being responsible defensively already. Committed to play at Penn State this coming season, Barratt will be one to watch as he has the skills to be one of the biggest draft day steals this year.
Tim Soderlund- 4th round, 112th overall
Another great skater, Soderlund projects as a bottom six forward, but could excel on the penalty kill with his above average speed and high compete level. Think Marcus Kruger with wheels.
Roope Laavainen- 4th round, 119th overall
The trend continues as the Blackhawks really tried to add great skaters to their prospect list. Laavainen is known to be a great defensive partner and is also a coveted right hand shot from the point.
Parker Foo- 5th round, 144th overall
The younger brother of coveted college free agent Spencer Foo will be following in his brothers footsteps when he attends Union College this fall after a breakout campaign with the Brooks Bandits of the AJHL. Foo raised his stock with a great combine where he impressed the Blackhawks scouts. He is years away from the NHL but it is worth keeping an eye on his progression.
Jakub Galvas- 5th round, 150th overall
Galvas had quite a tournament at the Ivan Hlinka U18 this past year, scoring the winning goal against Sweden in overtime to advance to the finals. A smart, responsible defender with an obvious ability to step up when the game is on the line. He has top four talent if he can continue to develop.
Josh Ess- 7th round, 215th overall
A mobile defenceman that plays a solid two way game. Follow his progress at the University of Wisconsin this coming season.
After a very busy offseason which saw many established players moving on, the time is now for some of the Blackhawks prospects to step up and claim a spot. Players to watch for at prospect camp include forwards Matthew Highmore, Nathan Noel, Graham Knott and Alex DeBrincat, all of whom played in this year’s Memorial Cup. On defence, watch for Jokiharju, last season’s second round pick, Chad Krys, and University of Nebraska-Omaha star Luc Snuggerud. At the time this was written, the official list of prospect camp invitees had not been released.
Key Outs- Panarin, Hjalmarsson, Darling, Kruger, Van Riemsdyk, Motte
Key Ins: Saad, Forsberg, Murphy, Sharp, Oesterle, Wingels, Rutta
Top 5 Blackhawks Prospects:
1: John Hayden
2: Alex DeBrincat
3: Anton Forsberg
4: Jan Rutta
5: Nick Schmaltz
Prospects to keep an eye on:
Thanks for taking the time to read this. For more articles and updates on the Blackhawks prospects, follow me on Twitter @fiveminutemajor. For league wide prospect coverage follow @DobberProspects