Chicago Blackhawks 2014 NHL Draft Preview

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Chicago Blackhawks 2014 NHL Draft prospect

The Chicago Blackhawks will be adding to the farm system this weekend when the 2014 NHL Draft takes place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This year’s crop of prospects is low on immediate impact, making it a draft worth taking chances. Chicago drafts 27th overall in the first round, and will have eight total picks. That could change with the usual influx of trades before/during the draft. Let’s not waste any time and get to the players to watch for Friday and as the draft continues into Saturday.

The Chicago Blackhawks will more than likely be taking the best available player when they draft in part because of their draft position. Do not be surprised to see a goaltender taken early, as well as at least one defenseman with the eight picks. Depth is depth – there’s never enough.

First Round Players

Thatcher Demko, G, Boston College: The San Diego native is the only goalie prospect that should be taken in the first 30 picks. As the only highly sought after netminder, that means at least a handful of teams will want him. Chicago needs goalie depth in the worst way, and taking the BC sophomore would be a boost to the farm system.

The Hawks would more than likely have to trade up to get him, as it would be shocking to see him fall outside of the Top 20 in the first round. The other issue that could keep him out of a Hawks sweater Friday is that he’s a college player. The recent Kevin Hayes non-signing could very well keep Chicago from burning another early pick on a Boston College player. Chris Block of The Third Man In stated during his appearance on the Hockeenight Puck Cast that upper management has been none too pleased with the Hayes situation for a number of reasons.

Connor Bleackley, C, Red Deer (WHL): Bleackley is not expected to be taken before the high-20’s in the first and would be a great addition to the Chicago Blackhawks. He wore the ‘C’ for Red Deer this past season, and maturity goes a long way with upper management. Bleackley is 6’1’’ and 195 lbs., meaning he can add weight to his and take advantage of his size. No one attribute stands out, but his two-way game makes him that much more valuable.

Ivan Barbashev, C, Moncton (QMJHL): Like Bleackley, Barbashev plays on both ends of the ice. It is not too often that you see a Russian-born player come to North America to play juniors, which could mean he would likely stay here after being drafted. His game needs refinement because no one skill has stood out. The tools are there, he just needs more time.

Brendan Lemieux, LW, Barrie (OHL): The son of former NHLer Claude Lemieux has taken after his father some. He knows how to use his size to his advantage. He scored 27 goals while totaling 145 penalty minutes for Barrie last season. If Lemieux keeps figuring out his offensive game, he could be a solid body in front of the net on the power play.

Adrian Kempe, LW, Modo Jr. (Sweden): The Chicago Blackhawks love their Swedes, and Kempe could be another in a long list of recent Swedish draft picks. He skates well, gets to the net and disrupts play at the other end of the ice.

Joshua Ho-Sang, C/RW, Windsor (OHL): Gifted scorer with maturity issues. If those maturity question marks cause him to drop to the Hawks, it would be tough to let him keep dropping. Ho-Sang’s puck handling and skating are near the top of the draft class, and he was considered a top prospect prior to this season’s issues. Chicago drafted the equally hot-headed Akim Aliu in 2007. Aliu has played briefly in the NHL with Calgary, but never possessed the offensive skill that Ho-Sang does.

That’s a lot to take in. The first round could go any which way with players being taken at any point. Outside of Aaron Ekblad and Sam Bennett, there has been very little consensus about who gets picked 3rd through 30th.

Others to Watch

Jack Glover, D, USNTDP: Glover is a string bean at 6’3” and 182 lbs. He is already tough to move off the puck, so imagine how much better he could be with another 10-15 lbs. of muscle. Glover should go in the second round.

Hunter Smith, RW, Oshawa (OHL): Smith is offensively sound and a beast. He is 6’7”, 220 lbs. and is confident using his size. Smith should also be taken in the second round.

Kaapo Kahkonen, G, Blues U20 (Finland): Kahkonen played every game for the Espoo Blues this past season and was in net for Finland’s U18 team. At 6’1”, 190lbs., he’s built like most goalies are in today’s game. He is ranked as the second best European goalie prospect and should be taken no later than the beginning of the third round.

Sweden: It was said earlier, but the Chicago Blackhawks love drafting Swedes. The club has had good success drafting players from Tre Kronor, and it would be a shock to see a few drafted with the intent of bringing them over stateside in three-to-five seasons.

Jaedon Descheneau, RW, Kootenay (WHL): Teamed up with consensus Top 5 pick Sam Reinhart, Jaedon Descheneau led Kootenay with 44 goals and tied for sixth in the WHL with 98 points. He may be small, but a couple of current Blackhawks have shown that talent supersedes size. Descheneau could be the next in line to buck that trend. His playmaking abilities improved during 2013-14, but is it because of Reinhart? Jaedon is worth a middle-round pick.

Enjoy the talk and speculation with each Chicago Blackhawks draft pick. As important as it is to hit on as many picks as possible, being able to ensure depth in the next handful of seasons with young talent is essential to Chicago’s prolonged success.

Jeff is a production assistant @120Sports and contributor to hockey, football, and baseball for The Sports Bank. Follow him on Twitter @skcih_ffej.

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