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Third Overall Pick Splitting the Blackhawks Fan Base

KENT, WASHINGTON - MARCH 30: Bowen Byram #44 of the Vancouver Giants takes a shot on gaol in the first period against the Seattle Thunderbirds at accesso ShoWare Center on March 30, 2019 in Kent, Washington. The Vancouver Giants top the Seattle Thunderbirds 5-1, and win the playoff series 4-2. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
KENT, WASHINGTON - MARCH 30: Bowen Byram #44 of the Vancouver Giants takes a shot on gaol in the first period against the Seattle Thunderbirds at accesso ShoWare Center on March 30, 2019 in Kent, Washington. The Vancouver Giants top the Seattle Thunderbirds 5-1, and win the playoff series 4-2. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images) /
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The shock of getting the third overall pick in the 2019 NHL entry draft has since faded for Chicago Blackhawks fans but what has not faded is the debate over who they should select with that pick.

Although a single player has not come into focus, there seem to be two major camps forming around defenseman, Bowen Byram, and forward, Alex Turcotte. There also seems to be different schools of thought in play when it comes these two as well, one being that you need to continually build up the defensive core, and the other being depth down the middle is key.

Honestly, both schools of thought are right and the Blackhawks could benefit from both a young center to build around like Jonathan Toews for the future, and also, need that stud go-to defenseman like Duncan Keith.

Why Bowen Byram?

Bowen Byram had a tremendous season with the Vancouver Giants of the WHL and has cemented himself as the top defenseman in the draft. He has been a fixture at the top of the mock drafts, but recently, has been seeing himself constantly connected with the Blackhawks, including TSN analyst Craig Button. Byram is being projected as that true number one defenseman that the Blackhawks don’t seem to already have in their system.

Looking at players like Adam Boqvist, Henri Jokiharju, Nicolas Beaudin and Ian Mitchell, none of these players project to be that night in and night out big time defenseman that Byram is projected to be. Another dimension to this also might be that Byram could be the closest of any player not named Kakko and Hughes to play in the NHL, which for a struggling Blackhawks team that is looking to compete quickly could sway their opinion.

Why Alex Turcotte?

Turcotte isn’t the biggest of the centers available, but what he doesn’t have in size he makes up in tenacity and overall skill. Turcotte was one of the most productive players in the USHL in only 16 contests because of injury. When he was on the ice, he was over a two-point per game player and a true facilitator in an extremely offensively gifted system with the USHL.

There are a few concerns when it comes to Turcotte, namely his durability with him missing so much time this season with a hip injury. Turcotte is taking in the scouting combine this week and seems to be in perfect health, but it does have to be a concern for the organization. This will be something the medical staff needs to monitor if he does end up being the pick.

I think most of the concern for Blackhawks fans about Turcotte is that he fits a bit too nicely into the narrative that the organization has fallen into from time to time. Turcotte is an Island Lake, IL native and grew up as a Blackhawks fan, just about an hour outside of the city. Many are concerned that this fits too much into the story that the Blackhawks like to play into with local players, and with him also being a top 5 prospect, he might just fit too perfectly into that narrative.

Personally, I am not one who buys into that whole narrative. Yes, it is a great marketing beat for the team and the organization, but he is a top five talent and would really create some depth at the center position that has been thin for years.

Wildcards?

In Danny Karmin’s latest article, he discusses a new name that might be entering the fold in sharpshooter Cole Caufield, who is also part of the USHL like Turcotte. Caufield, much like current Blackhawks’ Alex DeBrincat, just has a knack for scoring goals and finding soft areas on the ice despite his lack of size.

Caufield is an interesting player in that there is no denying his skill and production, but is a scoring winger really where the Blackhawks need to go with the third overall pick? Maybe, Kappo Kakko is going to be the second overall pick as a wing, but you also need to look at the Blackhawks’ needs. Drafting a player who can create depth at key positions in your organization should be your focus, which I think lies on defensemen and centers.

Without a doubt, Caufield is a major player at the top of the draft, but at third overall, I just don’t see it happening.

Who Do They Pick?

The easy answer would be, I have no idea, but if the pick became a life or death situation, I think that the Blackhawks should go with the defenseman. Honestly, the defensive depth in the Blackhawks’ system is good, but they don’t have that anchor player that I think Bowen Byram is. If they do end up selecting Alex Turcotte, I will not be upset.

However, with the Blackhawks’ current lack of impact defense in the system, and the decline of players like Keith and Seabrook, they need someone to step into that role. Bryam might just be that guy.

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