Factoring the Blackhawks’ Organizational Depth into the 3rd Overall Pick
By Roland Hacker
If the Blackhawks draft based on organizational need, rather than best available player, what position will they draft third overall?
It’s very rare for a goaltender to be drafted early in the draft. No goaltenders are expected to go in the top ten of this year’s draft, or really any NHL draft for that matter.
It’s safe to say the Blackhawks won’t draft a goaltender third overall this year. Assuming there was a valid candidate to go that high in this year’s draft, would the Blackhawks need one?
Probably not; Corey Crawford, when healthy, has been very good over the last several years. Goaltenders typically take the longest to develop of any position, so it would likely take a long time for any potential candidate to even make it to Chicago. The ‘Hawks already have several promising goaltending prospects in the system.
The organization seems to be high on Colin Delia, after a promising stint in the NHL last year following the injury to Crawford.
Alexis Gravel is likely a couple of years away from being NHL ready, but posted strong numbers for the Halifax Mooseheads this season during their postseason run.
Kevin Lankinen is in the midst of an impressive stretch for Finland in the 2019 IIHF Men’s World Championship tournament.
There’s no doubt, the Blackhawks’ defense at the NHL level was bad last season. That doesn’t mean the organization needs to draft a defenseman third overall this year though.
The Blackhawks have drafted three defensemen in the first round of the NHL draft over the last two years. They didn’t stop there either; Ian Mitchell and Chad Krys, both former second round picks, are currently working their way through the system.
Realistically, Mitchell, along with the three first round picks mentioned before, look like they could very well see success at the NHL level. That’s four defensemen without even counting any other prospect or player on the roster right now.
Bowen Byram certainly looks worthy of the third overall selection, but the Blackhawks’ organizational depth of defense is already strong, despite the results at the NHL level last season.
The thing about wingers is that a center can play wing much easier than a winger can play center. With that being said, all forwards in the Blackhawks’ system could turn out to be wingers if that’s what the team needs. However, the organization’s forward pipeline isn’t especially impressive.
Perhaps the most intriguing forward prospect, Philipp Kurashev, is listed as a center. There are not many high-end forward prospects in the system behind Kurashev, so a winger wouldn’t be the worst draft choice.
Still, if the ‘Hawks view the top winger and the top center available as being on the same talent level, there’s no reason not to take the center over the winger.
If the Blackhawks select a winger third overall, you can expect it to be Vasili Podkolzin, described by scouts as a sound two-way winger with plenty of offensive upside.
Though Podkolzin looks like a slam dunk in terms of overall talent, his contract status with the KHL may deter NHL teams from drafting him too high.
As mentioned previously, centers have a natural advantage in being drafted ahead of similarly talented wingers. This is the best option for Blackhawks, and there are plenty of eligible candidates.
Dylan Cozens, Kirby Dach, Trevor Zegras, Alex Turcotte and Peyton Krebs are all high-end potential centers. Of those, Cozens and Dach look like the safest picks to go third overall.
The Blackhawks are bound to get a great player third overall in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. There is plenty of speculation as to who will be selected after Hughes and Kakko, as many analysts think there is a lot of prospects with similar talent levels after the top two.
If the Blackhawks view this similarly and draft for organizational need, they should draft a center. Whether or not that’s in line with the thoughts of Blackhawks’ GM Stan Bowman and his scouting team remains to be seen.
Prediction: Blackhawks draft Dylan Cozens third overall