Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks Are Not On Top Of NHL Draft World

By Stephen Yatsushiro
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 15: Fans celebrate the Chicago Blackhawks winning the 2015 Stanley Cup at Sluggers World Class Sports Bar on June 15, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks beat the Lightning 2 - 0 to win the Stanley Cup. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 15: Fans celebrate the Chicago Blackhawks winning the 2015 Stanley Cup at Sluggers World Class Sports Bar on June 15, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks beat the Lightning 2 - 0 to win the Stanley Cup. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) /
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We were hoping to shout, “Made it, Ma. Top of the world!” But the Chicago Blackhawks fell one spot and will pick eighth in the upcoming NHL draft.

The first bright spot Chicago Blackhawks fans could hope for this offseason was to win the top pick in the 2018 NHL Draft Lottery.  Not only did the ‘Hawks not win the Rasmus Dahlin sweepstakes, they fell from seventh to eighth in the draft order.

But don’t lose hope, fans.  This year’s draft runs pretty deep in young talent. The highly respected Bob McKenzie of TSN has posted his rankings on this year’s prized prospects.

The top four players could all find themselves in the NHL this fall.  After these elite players, picks four through 15 present high-level prospects who could reach the NHL in short time.  Along with McKenzie, several analysts have projected defenseman Noah Dobson as the eighth pick.

Who is Noah Dobson?

Noah Dobson is an 18-year-old Canadian defenseman playing for Acadie-Bathurst in the QMJHL. Crossbar Consulting has touted him as one of the best players in this draft class. Take a look here:

If Dobson is selected before the ‘Hawks can draft him, the next-rated prospect is defenseman Quinn Hughes.

Quinn Hughes

Quinn Hughes is an 18-year-old American defenseman currently playing for the University of Michigan. He is a skilled puck mover but is only 5-foot-10, compared to Dobson at 6-3.  He’s an exciting playmaker as seen below, but keep in mind he’s playing on the larger international ice in these highlights.

Defense is the key

As we’ve been mentioning here at Blackhawk Up, the ‘Hawks must improve their defense next year to get back to playoff contention.

The lack of depth in the top four sabotaged whatever offensive firepower the ‘Hawks could muster against their opponents in this dismal season.  Of course, the loss of goalie Corey Crawford played a huge role in their demise. But, even with a healthy Crawford, the ‘Hawks would not have gotten very far with the thin defensive corps.

Would you rather …

So, here’s the question.  With superstars Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Crawford still in their prime, do the ‘Hawks draft defensemen who won’t play this year, or do they pursue established defenders through trade or free agency?

If the Core Four only has about three, maybe four more years of elite play in it, can the ‘Hawks wait for young defenders to reach their potential?

I last wrote about the top free agent defenders in John Carlson, Calvin de Haan, Thomas Hickey and John Moore as possible targets.  There are trade candidates out there, too, such as Ryan Pulock, Mark Pysyk and Nathan Beaulieu.  Adding any of these defensemen would boost the ‘Hawks immediately in their current window of contention.

Next: History Proves 'Hawks Will Benefit From 8th Pick

We have some really well-informed readers.  What are your opinions on the ‘Hawks and what they do with their No. 8 pick?  Take the projected Dobson or Hughes (who won’t make the NHL roster this fall) and add defenders via free agency?  Or trade the pick with a higher salary player to get a top-three defender?  Or …?

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