Chicago Blackhawks Future Friday: The NHL Entry Draft

By Mario Tirabassi
Jun 2, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman talks with media during media day the day before the 2015 Stanley Cup Final at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 2, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman talks with media during media day the day before the 2015 Stanley Cup Final at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Blackhawks Enter Draft At No. 50

The 2016 NHL Entry Draft is upon us.  Buffalo, New York will be the center of the hockey universe, if not for just this weekend. While many teams will be clamoring over who to pick in the first-round of the Entry Draft on Friday, the Chicago Blackhawks will have to wait their turn on Saturday when they select 50th overall, a pick they acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes in the Bryan Bickell, Teuvo Teravainen trade earlier this month. 

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So what will the Blackhawks do with their first pick in the Entry Draft on Saturday? Many have been calling for Chicago to select a player who could be the next top-line Forward, but there are a number of prospects in the Blackhawks organization that could fit that role in a number of years. The proper plan of action for the Blackhawks more than likely is to try a bolster a prospect core on the blue-line.

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Need For Defensive Depth

As it stands, the Blackhawks have two, maybe three solid defensive prospects that are yet to make an impact at the NHL level, Gustav Forsling, Ville Pokka, and Carl Dahlstrom. Out of those three defensmen, Dahlstrom is the only one that was selected by Chicago as Pokka and Forsling were acquired through trades.

If Chicago is going to use their first-pick of the Entry Draft on defense, there are three names that could be in play when the 50th selection comes around: Victor Mete, Josh Mahura, and Cam Dineen.

  • Victor Mete, D (5-10, 165lbs) London Knights (OHL) – Mete is an undersized defenseman with great skills on the puck and a high ceiling of offensive potential. Playing similar to that of Torey Krug, Mete is a defender who loves to join the offensive rush and can be a key component on the power-play. His speed helps him greatly on the defensive side of the ice, but needs to add to his frame to be a NHL-ready defender.
  • Josh Mahura, D (6-0, 175lbs) Red Deer Rebels (WHL) – While his season was cut short by injury, Mahura still has shown a great deal of potential on the defensive side of things. Another defenseman that likes to contribute offensively, Mahura plays a more two-way game and is solid on both ends of the ice. His skating ability precedes his other skills, but doesn’t take away from his puck moving abilities or his potential as a threat on the power-play. If available, Mahura could be the best choice for Chicago at number 50.
  • Cam Dineen, D (5-11, 180lbs) North Bay Battalion (OHL) – Another offensive-minded defenseman, Dineen excels with the puck and shows excellent decision-making on the ice and moves the puck well. Like Mete, Dineen needs work in his own zone and would need to get stronger and more physical against the opposition before being ready to make an impact for the Blackhawks.

Chicago has had issues with solid, puck-moving defensemen in their lineup and could greatly benefit from developing a prospect that could make an impact on both ends of the ice. Possession numbers have been below expectations for the Blackhawks, and the best defensemen on the puck like Duncan Keith and Niklas Hjalmarsson aren’t getting any younger.

Time To Draft A Goalie?

It has been brought up before and now that it is Entry Draft time it is worth repeating, the Blackhawks could have a goaltending issue on their hands. In a previous article, the Chicago Blackhawks are set for now with Corey Crawford and Scott Darling in net. But as far as the long-term future of the position goes, the Blackhawks don’t seem to have a plan.

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Enter the third round in this weekend’s Entry Draft and the Blackhawks would be in prime position to select a top-tier goaltending prospect at pick number 83. Two major names would be in play when the Blackhawks get to their third-round selection: Evan Fitzpatrick and Dylan Wells.

  • Evan Fitzpatrick, G (6-2, 200lbs) Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL) – While many have Fitzpatrick ranked as the top North American goalie in this year’s Entry Draft, Fitzpatrick is hovering around the Blackhawks’ 83rd pick in most to all of the top NHL mock drafts. Fitzpatrick brings the size and athletic ability that teams look for in a future number one goaltender. He still needs to develop his skills and positioning ability, but the steadiness of Crawford in net for Chicago would allow them time to work with Fitzpatrick.
  • Dylan Wells, G (6-2, 185lbs) Peterborough Petes (OHL) – Wells is another goaltending prospect with the size and athletic abilities that NHL teams look for in the position. But consistency has been his biggest issue in his time with the Petes in the OHL. His ability to see the puck and use his positioning is near the top of the heap in this year’s talent pool. If Wells can put together solid outings on a more consistent basis and develop his positioning control abilities, he can be top-notch goaltender in the NHL.

While the Blackhawks have a lot to consider this weekend when it comes to their draft needs, they are also going to be focusing on a multitude of potential trades and contract negotiations while they are at it. Here’s hoping the first pick in this year’s Entry Draft will fair better than the past few top picks by Chicago, and gets a chance to develop with the organization and be the next big thing for the Blackhawks.

So what do you think the Blackhawks will do over the weekend? Let us know in the comment section below!

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