The Chicago Blackhawks are days away from hopefully adding to their already deep farm system. The 2014 NHL Entry Draft does not appear to offer a lot of high-end, “can’t-miss” talent, but offers teams that are not drafting towards the top like Chicago the opportunity to continue fortifying their depth.
Let’s have a little fun and take a look at how the Chicago Blackhawks have added and used their picks to build a consistent Stanley Cup contender. For all the hits and misses that come with drafting amateurs, the Hawks have done well for the most part over the past decade. Below are (subjectively) the 10 best draft picks from 2004 to 2013.
10. Teuvo Teravainen: 1st Round, 18th overall (2012)
Teravainen’s arrival in the states this past March stirred up a lot of positive emotion among Chicago Blackhawks fans. His talent against hockey players his age was advanced, and in his brief stint with the Hawks, he showed flashes of NHL-caliber play. His size was a reason why he dropped in the 2012 draft, as well as no guarantee that he’d leave his native Finland to play in the NHL.
There is no guarantee that he prospers in the league, but drafting a top-five talent 18th overall turned out to be a worthwhile gamble.
9. Andrew Shaw: 5th Round, 18th overall (2011)
Shaw’s patience paid off. In his third draft, the Chicago Blackhawks bit on the scrappy forward. Shaw’s uncanny ability to cause trouble in front of the opponent’s net has helped a below-average power play become a little less than below-average. His willingness to fill whatever role is asked of him is an endearing quality and has led to opportunities skating top-six forward minutes at times.
8. Marcus Kruger: 5th Round, 28th overall (2009)
When Kruger is not getting impaled by an opponent’s big hit, he is anchoring Chicago’s 4th line. The Swedish-born center sees team’s top two lines on a nightly basis and has the ugly possession numbers to prove it. That said, someone has to buck up and take the defensive zone draws and Kruger accepted that role to play on a very good team. His improved faceoff skills and defensive aptitude earned him a spot on Sweden’s 2014 Winter Olympic team, a well-deserved honor.
7. Bryan Bickell: 2nd Round, 11th overall (2004)
Bickell stepped in after the Hawks had to unload a large chunk of the 2010 Stanley Cup Champ roster. Dustin Byfuglien was the big guy with the big shot, so naturally the 220+ lbs. Bickell stepped up to take his place. Just like (really) Big Buff, Bickell played his best hockey in the playoffs. His shot is hard and heavy and he is a nice complement to the Chicago Blackhawks with more skill.
6. Troy Brouwer: 7th Round, 21st overall (2004)
Brouwer was a cap casualty after the 2010-11 season. Brouwer was due a pay raise that Chicago couldn’t afford. He was the perfect third liner who put up at-the-time career numbers in 2009-10. In order to win championships, you need character players like Brouwer to step up. As the 214th overall pick in 2004, Troy is the lowest pick on this list.
5. Dave Bolland: 2nd Round, 2nd overall (2004)
Bolland is the third and final member of the ’04 Class to make the top ten. Cam Barker and Jake Dowell also contributed with the Hawks from that group. Barker was traded to Minnesota for Nick Leddy, and Dowell saw time on Chicago’s 4th line from 2009-11 before signing with Dallas.
Bolland was an excellent agitator centering the 3rd line on the West Side. Very few centers in the Western Conference could shut down the likes of the Sedins, Joe Thornton, and Anze Kopitar, among others, but Bolland could. Injuries and inconsistency marred his last couple of seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks, but may hilariously break the bank with Toronto this offseason.
4. Brandon Saad: 2nd Round, 13th overall (2011)
Saad’s talent was never in question heading into the 2011 draft. The problem was getting him to sign. Saad did shortly after being selected and has shown flashes of excellence. His power and size make him tough to get off the puck, and his defense is improving playing with the likes of Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa. Saad has earned the nickname “Son of Hossa” through social media because of their similar playing styles. If Saad is even 75% of the player Hossa is, then Chicago may have the steal of the 2011 draft.
Note: Other 2011 draftees such as Mark McNeill, Phillip Danault, Adam Clendening, and Klas Dahlbeck all have a chance to contribute for the Chicago Blackhawks some time in the next couple of seasons.
3. Niklas Hjalmarsson: 4th Round, 17th Overall
Chicago’s second best defenseman was almost let go as a restricted free agent after the 2010 season. Instead, Antti Niemi was allowed to walk and Chicago is no worse for wear. ‘Hjammer’ has been the defense-first blueliner that makes a good defensive corps great. His blocked shot count is sky-high and he’s even lost his voice keeping rubber away from the net. There is no doubt that Hjalmarsson is in the long-term plans in Chicago.
2. Patrick Kane: 1st Round, 1st overall (2007)
We’re entering the ‘no s&!t’ portion of the countdown. The first pick in the 2007 draft was nearly the second or third. James van Riemsdyk and Kyle Turris were also considered worthy of the top pick. JVR has played with Kane in the Winter Olympics, while Turris took the scenic route before becoming an above average NHL player. There is no doubt that Kane was the right pick, and should be a Blackhawk for at least one more long contract. He’s the best pure scorer drafted by Chicago since Jeremy Roenick.
1. Jonathan Toews: 1st Round, 3rd overall (2006)
You can make a justified case for Kane in the number one spot, but ‘Captain Serious’ gets the call here. He is nearly a point-per-game player and became the youngest player to win a gold medal, Stanley Cup, World Junior Championship, and World Championship. His two-way play makes him a Selke Trophy candidate almost annually and his mastery of the faceoff dot makes him a dangerous center anywhere on the ice. Like Kane, Toews will be given a lengthy contract to stay in Chicago well into his 30’s. There is a very good chance he goes down as one of the three to five best Chicago Blackhawks in team history.
Got a Blackhawks hot take after reading this? Feel free to tell us why you’re right and this countdown is the worst one ever.Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks