The Blackhawks did not make it to the pit on Saturday night, but they are still confident that they will get an impact player with their highest pick since 2007, when they selected Patrick Kane as the first general.
The Hawks will be placed in eighth place, falling in fact because they recorded the seventh worst record, on June 22 in Dallas, after not being able to advance to the first three places during the draft lottery held on Saturday night in Toronto . They had a 6.5 percent chance of winning the No. 1 pick and a 20.4 percent chance of jumping to the first three. Buffalo won the first overall selection, followed by Carolina and Montreal.
Most likely, the Hawks’ top pick does not make a difference next season. Only 10 players selected in the 2017 draft played in the NHL this season, and only the top two picks, Nico Hischier of New Jersey and Nolan Patrick of Philadelphia, played in more than nine games.
So while the Hawks desperately need help on the blue line, the number one pick, Rasmus Dahlin, would have been terribly kind, they would not feel pressured to choose defenses alone.
“A lot of things play in the national team,” said Hawks scout Mark Kelley. “But the first thing you should do is look for a player that can impact the team.” If you strictly follow the [positional] need, I think you’re doing a long-term disservice. ”
A quick look at recent history suggests that the Hawks could still get a significant portion of their future. In the 2016 draft, Arizona chose dynamic forward Clayton Keller, seventh overall, and is a finalist for the Calder Trophy after a rookie season of 65 points. Two selections later, selected Montreal defender Mikhail Sergachev, who is playing an important role for Tampa Bay Lightning. Eight of the top 10 picks in the 2016 draft have already played at least 71 games in the NHL. Other recent No. 8 picks include Columbus defender Zach Werenski (2015), Toronto forward William Nylander (2014), Buffalo defender Rasmus Ristolainen (2013), Vancouver defender Derrick Pouliot (2012) and center Philadelphia Sean Couturier (2011).
So, who could the Hawks get to No. 8? Maybe defender Noah Dobson, who had 17 goals and 52 assists in 67 games at QMJHL. Or maybe the US center Oliver Wahlstrom, who scored 22 goals and 23 assists in 26 games with the US National Development Team. UU Other possibilities are the Swedish defender Adam Boqvist, the University of Michigan defender Quinn Hughes, the OHL Barrett Hayton center and the Finnish center Jesperi Kotkaniemi.
Kelley said that all the drafts are practically the same after the first 30 or 40 selections, but that this first round harvest is particularly strong and deep.
“Obviously, at the top end of the draft, you have a higher percentile of players who can enter and contribute,” Kelley said. “I do not think I can say we’re looking to satisfy a need, an immediate need, with the draft.” Obviously, if you are lucky enough to win one of those lottery selections, that type of player satisfies a need, whether you need it or not. These are the kind of players that can enter and impact the team. “