2002: Duncan Keith, 2nd round, 54th overall
Here we go, a breath of fresh air. It’s incredible, in hindsight, that the Blackhawks managed to get Keith this late in the draft. Here are all the defensemen who were drafted ahead of the cyborg Keith: Jay Bouwmeester, Joni Pitkanen, Ryan Whitney, Keith Ballard, Steve Eminger, Denis Grebeshkov, Anton Babchuk, Martin Vagner, Ondrej Nemec, Trevor Daley, Matt Greene, Tomas Linhart, Kirill Kolstov, Anton Kadeykin and Dan Sprang.
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While some of those names are certainly recognizable, it’s abundantly clear Keith has had a much larger impact on the Blackhawks than any of those athletes had with the teams that drafted them. Keith has only known the Blackhawks in the NHL, helping them to three Stanley Cups as a minutes-eating blueliner. He runs the offense and powerplay, and he’s pretty much a machine.
Keith’s career stats, to this point, show 955 games played, 102 goals, 436 assists, a plus-187 rating, two Norris Trophy wins, one Conn Smythe win and an average ice time above 25 minutes in the regular season and above 28 minutes in the postseason. Oh, and the three Cups thing.
2003: Brent Seabrook, 1st round, 14th overall
Seabrook gets the nod here simply because he’s been a key part of three Cup runs versus two for Crow. Seabrook was the mainstay defensive partner of Keith for quite a while upon their entry into the league. The two were more or less inseparable during the beginning of the franchise’s turnaround, and that was certainly a good thing.
Seabrook is probably best known for his clutch postseason goals (it seems like he has more than 20, including three game-winners) and for his quiet leadership role on the team. The latter was best exemplified in 2013, when Seabrook addressed a frustrated Jonathan Toews in the penalty box during a playoff series against Detroit. The Blackhawks went on to win that series and the Cup.
Seabrook, like Keith, has only ever known the Blackhawks in the NHL. He has 963 games played with 105 goals, 321 assists and a plus-125 rating.
Next: 2004 And 2005