Chicago Blackhawks’ Recent Draft History Has Its Ups And Downs
On Tuesday night, the Edmonton Oilers won the NBA draft lottery … wait, that’s not right. It appears the Philadelphia 76ers won that lottery, meaning the Oilers actually don’t have the first overall pick in any upcoming draft … for now.
Anyway, in the spirit of drafting younger talent to improve a professional sports team, we’re going to look back at all of the Blackhawks’ draft classes since the start of the new millennium and pick out the best choice from each of those groups.
Now, picking the “best” of each litter is only going to be based on what the player did or projects to do with the Blackhawks, not what they accomplished after leaving Chicago. That’s really the only standard for these rankings. And with that, let’s get started.
2000: Pavel Borobiev, 1st round, 11th overall
This is easily the roughest draft class for the Blackhawks since the number “2” began gracing the beginning of each year. No one in the group went on to play in more than 57 games with the Blackhawks, and that was with 15 players selected.
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So Borobiev gets the winner’s placard here. He was the player of the aforementioned 57 games, during which he tallied 10 goals and 15 assists. He also racked up 38 penalty minutes, probably upset he was playing on a crappy team outside his native country of Russia.
Looking back at this draft, the Blackhawks had the 10th and 11th overall picks and managed to strike out on both. While the class was pretty weak all around (Steve Ott was a first-round pick), Henrik Lundqvist did manage to go in the seventh round. So …
2001: Tuomo Ruutu, 1st round, 9th overall
Some Chicago fans have bad memories of Ruutu, mostly because he was one of “the guys” during the darkest of the recent dark times for the Blackhawks. And he flopped really hard instead of pulling the franchise back into relevancy.
Ruutu, who believe it or not is still in the league (he played in 33 games this season with New Jersey) spent parts of four seasons with the Blackhawks and couldn’t stay healthy or productive. In 228 games sporting the Indian Head, Ruutu tallied 48 goals, 60 assists and 259 penalty minutes. That’s quite the first-round choice.
Ruutu also managed an amazing(ly bad) minus-31 rating in what was arguably his best season, his first NHL campaign in 2003-04. Ruutu was shipped out of dodge just before the getting got good, bringing a return of Andrew Ladd from Carolina.
If it’s surprising that I deemed Ruutu the best Blackhawks pick of 2001, consider only four of their 13 picks ever saw NHL action. The runner-up was goaltender Craig Anderson, whose Blackhawks career could best be described as “a thing that happened.”
Next: 2002 And 2003