Thursday, January 6, 2011

Draft by Decade: Chicago Blackhawks

It would be easy to rip on the Hawks for years of futility which lead to an absolute plethora of high picks all decade, but if you take a really close look you'll see why the Hawks could be considered one of, if not, the best in the league at the draft table.

Patrick Kane, drafted first overall in 2007, and Jonathan Toews taken third overall in 2006, are the face of the franchise that won the cup in 2009-10.  The weeks following the cup win were more aftermath than afterglow for Stan Bowman, Blackhawk's GM.  He was forced to ship out a number of role players to meet salary cap constrictions, and the team has not been the same this season, currently ninth, and out of the playoff picture.

For some sake of order we'll go chronologically and look at the beginning of the decade.  Chicago did well to take an NHL top-six forward with the ninth overall pick in that draft, and though Tuomo Ruutu never hit his stride in Chicago the Hawks also found another full time NHLer, goaltender Craig Anderson in the third round.  2002 was an amazing draft for the Hawks, taking a trio of star D-men: Anton Babchuck in the first round, Norris Trophy Winner Duncan Keith in the second, and James Wisniewski in the fifth; they also added Adam Burrish in the 8th round.  The other half of one of the leagues best D-pairings, Brent Seabrook was taken in the first round in 2003, but this year's Norris candidate Dustin Byfuglien was taken 245th overall.  They continued to stockpile D-men taking Cam Barker third overall in 2004, but they snagged Dave Bolland in the second round, as well as Bryan Bickell, tack on Jake Dowell in the 5th and Troy Bruower in the 7th; 3 of these five were on the cup winning roster.  Getting the pattern here?  In 2005 they took their usual high pick to select Jack Skille 7th overall, but it was top-r d-man Nick Hjalmarsson in the fourth round that was the crown jewel of that draft.

Kane was first overall in 2007 but a pair of second rounders have big potential, in Bill Sweatt and Akim Aliu.  2008 the Hawks used the first rounder to take power forward Kyle Beach, then took a stud D-man in shawn lalonde in the 3rd. 2009's first round pick Dylan Olsen at 28th has 13 points in 17 games for Minnesota Duluth and is a tower of power on the back-end, but Brandon Pirri taken in the second round has already played his first NHL game. 2010 the Hawks found Kevin Hayes in the late first round but this power forward has six points in ten games in his first year at Boston College.  They followed him up with four picks in the second round that year.

The Hawks get an A+.  They continue to build around the draft because they have done so well drafting in the past.  They have great asset management, which they showed moving Cam Barker to free up cap space and snagging Nick Leddy in return.  No less than 13 players drafted by the club have suited up for them this year, and the farm system is absolutely stocked.  Yes, they got the gift picks in Kane and Toews, but they did well taking the right players, and they have there share of diamonds in the rough.


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