Now that the madness of the Finals is well off our plate (congratulations to the Kings by the way) we can turn our attention to more pressing matters: the draft and the upcoming offseason. In case you don’t already know, the first round of this year’s draft is on Friday, and if you’re unable to watch due to work or some other commitment, I highly recommend moving stuff around to make yourself available. According to most sources, this is going to be one of the busiest drafts in recent memory in terms of personnel and pick movement.
In this post I don’t intend to discuss specific players the Hawks could take with the 18th pick (that will come either tomorrow) or some specific trade scenarios (that will be on Wednesday or Thursday) instead I want to talk about what could happen with the Hawks 1st round pick.
Picking 18th offers a lot of flexibility. If you choose to use the pick, you can still get a quality player. If you choose to trade it, the pick still holds good value. So the Hawks have a lot of options.
I think we will see one of three things happen with the Hawks 1st round pick:
The Hawks trade away their 1st round pick to acquire a quality NHL player
This is a scenario I think could very well come to fruition on Friday. The Hawks have a lot of holes on their NHL roster and a 1st round pick could add a lot of value to whatever trade package the Hawks plan to put together. Some teams that could be involved are San Jose, Winnipeg, Washington, Calgary, Tampa Bay and Montreal.
The Hawks move up in the draft
The Hawks have had 22 selections in the last two drafts, which has given their system a ton of depth at nearly every position. Perhaps this year they should go for quality over quantity. Trading their 1st and 2nd round picks to move into the top 10 is something we could see happen. It would give them a much wider selection of high quality prospects. Some teams that could be interested are Anaheim, Minnesota, Carolina, Winnipeg and Tampa Bay.
The Hawks use their 18th pick on a defenseman
Ultimately, this is what I think we will see happen on Friday, and that’s not a bad thing. Adding a 1st round pick to your system is never a dumb move. Most people, including myself, have the Hawks taking a reliable albeit work-in-progress defenseman with the 18th pick. This would make the most sense. Outside of Dylan Olsen, Adam Clendening and possibly Stephen Johns, the Hawks have few other defensemen with a lot of upside and NHL potential. Adding another name to the mix could really ensure their system has sufficient talent on defense.
No goalies, no forwards, no more picks
Now a lot of people in mock drafts and on Twitter have been speculating that the Hawks will take a goalie at 18. While it is possible they will, I think its highly unlikely, for a few reasons. First, while their need in goal at the NHL is well known, the Hawks’ depth in net has been strengthened over the past two years by Mac Carruth’s progression and the emergence of Carter Hutton. So they have some goalies with some potential. Its not as if the cupboard is completely dry.
Second, this is an organization that has shown its ability to find talented netminders in later rounds (Carruth being one of them, Johan Mattson being another) The Hawks have tremendous confidence in their scouting staff and I’m sure they’re confident there will be a gem or two later in the draft.
Third, none of the goalies, at least in my opinion, jump out as goalies worthy of going top 20. The only one I would make a case for is Andrei Vasilevsky, who comes with huge question marks about where he intends to spend his career. Everyone else I would only consider taking if my pick was 22nd or lower.
So let me reiterate, while I definitely think its possible the Hawks take someone like Malcolm Subban at 18 (that would make a statement that they are committed to improving their goalie position) but considering the position and tendencies of the Hawks, I don’t think its likely.
Additionally, taking another forward in the 1st round would be the definition of redundancy, as would be trading down for more picks. The Hawks took 2 forwards in the 1st round last year and are already crammed at forward on the farm. This year the Hawks should be looking to move picks, not accumulate them.
So if you were to ask me, I would say the Hawks will either trade their 1st round pick (either for an NHL player or trade up for a higher pick) or use it on a defenseman. But who knows, maybe Bowman and his team have a curveball or two in store for us. We’ll have to see on Friday.
Tomorrow I’ll go over some names that might still be available at 18 (assuming the Hawks use their pick)
Thanks for reading!