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Post-Draft and Free Agency Thoughts

 

So draft weekend is behind us and I have some thoughts:

- I was mildly upset that the Blackhawks passed on defenseman Olli Maatta. Being a casual follower of the London Knights, who pump out NHL-calibre players like a pez dispenser, I had ample opportunities to see Maatta play throughout the year and I absolutely love his game. With that being said the Blackhawks certainly didn’t go off the board with their selection of Teuvo Teravainen. According to most scouts and reports, Teravainen was a player that should have gone in the top ten. Some teams even had him in their top five. So why did he slip to 18? Well most likely some teams simply couldn’t get past his size. He reminds me in a lot of ways of the Wild’s 2010 1st round pick Mikael Granlund. Like Teravainen, Granlund is an undersized but highly skilled forward with superb mobility and offensive instincts. Since being drafted, Granlund has spent the last two seasons playing in Finland and has developed into one of the best prospects in all of hockey. However, despite his tremendous talent and promise, Granlund is completely unproven at the NHL level and some still question whether or not his size will be a barrier to success. I feel that Teravainen will go through a similar growth pattern: he will return to Finland for a year or two, develop into an extremely promising young prospect but there will still be doubts about how successful he will be in the NHL. Either way, there’s no question getting Teravainen where the Hawks did was a significant steal. He could very well turn into the second or third best player from this draft class.

- The Hawks 3rd round pick of Chris Calnan was fantastic. He’s a physical, hard-nosed forward. He excelled at the combine. He’s JR’s nephew. He’s going to Boston College. What more do you need? His game needs some fine tuning in all areas, so he’s certainly a few years away but I think the Hawks definitely have something with Calnan. Potential bottom six contributor for sure.

- The Hawks could have another version of Andrew Shaw with Garret Ross, one of two 5th round picks. By most accounts he’s a really scrappy player who had the pleasure of playing alongside Brandon Saad when he was tearing up the OHL. While that may have inflated his numbers a bit, the scouting reports on him say he’s still a talented forward capable of scoring goals and making plays. There’s an outside chance Ross ends up in Rockford next year if he impresses in prospect camp this summer. We’ll definitely keep an eye on him.

- The Hawks took two goalies in the 7th round, but the one to keep an eye on is Brandon Whitney from the Victoriaville Tigres of the QMJHL. Central Scouting had him ranked as their #2 goalie in North America behind Malcolm Subban and he was projected to go somewhere in the 2nd or 3rd round, so to get him in the 7th round is a huge steal. At 6’5″ he is a monster and covers so much net when he goes down into the butterfly and he’s a quick for a goalie with that kind of size. He definitely has a lot of upside and there’s a chance we’ll see him play for Team Canada at the World Juniors in the next few years.

Some other notes:

- A friend of mine asked me where I expect Ryan Suter to be next year. If I had to handicap it I would say 40% Detroit, 25% Pittsburgh, 20% Chicago, 10% Minnesota, 5% Nashville. I think his time in Nashville is finished and the chances of him resigning there are slim to none. Most sources say that geography will play a huge role in Suter’s decision of where to sign, because of his desire to be close to his hometown in Wisconsin. Therefore, I think there’s a good chance we see Suter go to one of the Midwest teams, most likely Detroit, who can offer Suter a big contract, a No. 1 role, proximity to his hometown and an opportunity to win a championship. However, rumors are circulating that Pittsburgh is aggressively pursuing Suter’s rights and will present him with a big offer on July 1st. Minnesota is possible, but unlikely. And I think there’s an outside chance he signs with the Hawks, who probably won’t give him the biggest financial offer but can give him an opportunity for a championship, as well as good location. Additionally, his uncle and former Hawks Gary Suter is still close with the organization and could have some pull with Ryan. We’ll monitor the situation and keep you updated.

- It seems like its become a “whoever draws their gun first” scenario with the Sharks and Rangers in the battle for Rick Nash. However my money is on the Rangers. For one, Glen Sauther has a reputation for making headscratching deals and I think is more likely to meet Scott Howsons demands than Doug Wilson. Plus, the Rangers have more attractive assets.

- It looks more and more like Zach Parise will resign with the Devils.

- I would expect the Hawks to make at least one trade this week. A lot of different sources are reporting that numerous teams are showing interest in Niklas Hjalmarsson, so theres a good chance something happens with him. Ottawa and Edmonton are strong possibilities.

- Thank god Luongo refused to waive his NTC to come to the Hawks. Now we can all stop speaking of such nonsense.

That’s all for today. Check back over the course of the week. Hopefully I’ll have some free agency previews, including a small list of players that Hawks should be looking at.

Thanks for reading!

 

Tags: Brandon Whitney Chicago Blackhawks Chris Calnan Garret Ross Olli Maatta Rick Nash Ryan Suter Teuvo Teravainen Zach Parise

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