The NHL draft is a great way to improve an NHL team for the long term, but for the Chicago Blackhawks, it is not going to present an instant fix.
The state of the Chicago Blackhawks rebuild is interesting. While they are as competitive as a team like the Kings or Sharks, they did not really tear things down and rebuild as the Kings did. They still seem to be in the relatively early stages of this rebuild and maybe it just was a fluke that they had a relatively strong season.
The Hawks should take some step forward next season. Whether it is just in the games being a little closer, or the team not being as bad defensively, one would imagine next season should look a little better. That might not mean they make the playoffs though.
This is not the NFL. The Chicago Bears are looking pretty good after finding their quarterback in Justin Fields. The Blackhawks are not going to be so lucky. It takes a few years to get prospects into the NHL, they are not going to fill their holes in the lineup with this year’s draft picks. Of all the players drafted in the first round of the 2020 NHL draft, only four played in the league this season. From the 2019 draft, 17 out of the 31 drafted in the first round have not played this season. The 2018 draft has all but six first-rounders playing and the 2017 draft has everyone except for one.
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I mention this because it shows that these things take some time. The Hawks are not going to draft anyone this off-season that are going to make an instant impact on this team. As of now, the Blackhawks are drafting in the top 15. While their final position might change a little bit, they will be a part of the draft lottery.
Chicago has 50 points on the season and sit 21st in the entire NHL. Calgary, who is next on the list, has 47 points but three games in hand. If they win and jump Chicago then the Hawks will be 20th in the league. The only issue is the NHL will also be adding the Seattle Kraken to this year’s NHL draft so that will bounce the Blackhawks back a pick.
So assuming the Blackhawks are drafting around the 12th pick in the draft, that means the team needs to prepare to add a prospect we probably won’t see for a few seasons. While the team can trade some players and rework their roster that way, the draft is not going to present the team with any Justin Fields like game-changers.
"Five 2021 NHL Draft prospects for the Blackhawks to keep an eye on"
The Blackhawks have found some hidden gems through free agents and undrafted forwards, but the NHL draft is still where the next round of players will be found.