Chicago Blackhawks: How A Hammer Saved The 2005 Draft

By Keith Schultz

Jun 28, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman

Niklas Hjalmarsson

(4) during the 2013 Stanley Cup championship celebration at Grant Park. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

On this date in 2005 the NHL held its annual draft.

On a side note since the NHL was coming off its cancelled season, the draft order was decided by a lottery. If you want to go to East Coast bias conspiracy theories, the Pittsburgh Penguins won the Sidney Crosby Sweepstakes. It another strange note about the 2005 draft is that it was serpentine like your fantasy drafts are instead of the worst team picking first at the beginning of each round.

The Blackhawks picked 7th in the draft and if you look up the top 20 prospects heading into the 2005 draft you will not find the name Jack Skille, but that was the name selected by the Blackhawks on this date 8 years ago as the Hawks first round pick.  Teams make mistakes every year during the draft, but the problem with this pick is all the recognized talent that was out there instead of reaching for Skille.

Skille’s Blackhawks career was a total bust. He played in 79 games with Chicago scoring 12 goals 13 assists and a -2 rating.  If there was a silver lining with Skille is that he showed enough playing on the 4th line in 2010-2011 that he was moved to the Florida Panthers at the trade deadline in 2011 for Michael Frolik. Since arriving in Florida, Skille has scored 7 goals in 86 games.

The talent picked after Skille and the 7th pick does in the what could have been column. Devin Setoguchi, Anze Kopitar, Marc Staal, Tuukka Rask, Kris Letang, and Jonathan Quick are  just to name a few of the names selected in the two rounds after Skille.

What saved the day for this Blackhawks draft came in the 4th round and the 108th selection when the Hawks selected Niklas Hjalmarsson.  Hjalmarsson was rumored to be traded in 2011 and at the draft in 2012, but the Hammer in 2013 returned to his shot blocking lockdown defensive play that he displayed in the 2010 Stanley Cup run.  Hjalmarsson is part of the core that has won 2 Cups in 4 seasons.

Hjalmarsson has played in 306 career games as a Blackhawks defensman scoring 9 goals and 47 assists, but most importantly he has a career +48 which included a +15 in 2013.

Hjalmarsson could have been a San Jose Shark after the 2010 season, but the Hawks Stan Bowman matched the offer sheet which cost the Hawks Antti Niemi,but in the end it was the right decision to keep the Hammer with Corey Crawford emerging as a Stanley Cup winning goalie.

Hjalmarsson is the only pick of the 2005 draft by the Hawks that became a solid pro, and in the end Hammer saved the 2005 draft for the Blackhawks on this date 8 years ago!

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