The 2021 NHL Entry Draft could prove to be one of the most consequential selections for the Chicago Blackhawks in years.
The Blackhawks finished 20th in the league standings this year, so they should, at the very least, be able to secure a top-15 pick in the draft. If they get really lucky, it isn’t outrageous to think that they could have a top-ten selection this year. That being said, this year should be a chance for the team to fatten up on their core of young prospects.
The team’s first-round pick last year, forward Lukas Reichel, likely has a year or two left before he sees any NHL action but was still a solid choice given the talent that was left on the board. However, after the season that the ‘Hawks just had, it would be nice to see them grab a player that can make the transition to the NHL a little bit quicker.
This year’s draft class appears to have a good mix of both forwards and defense. The Blackhawks seem to have a decent core of young defenseman, so it wouldn’t be crazy to assume that general manager Stan Bowman takes a forward again. However, Bowman has been known to draft players based on available talent, not necessarily positional needs. This being said, if there is a solid defenseman left on the board, they could very easily wind up in a ‘Hawks jersey.
The 2021 draft processes was also complicated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The virus shut down much of junior hockey this year, and the CHL also announced that they had canceled the 2021 Memorial Cup as a result. Due to these circumstances, the NHL’s Scouting Department did not publish a ranking of their top prospects as they normally due. The most recent thing we have this year is a list of the top 32 prospects from NHL.com staff writer Mike Morreale, however, this is not an ‘official’ ranking by scouts, per se.
So, while there is no official ranking list from the NHL, there are still other ways to examine the next generation of NHLers, and a number of great players that the Blackhawks can choose from to help lead the team into the future. Keep in mind that we do not yet know what pick the team will have, so some of these players may or may not be available. I’m aware that some of the players on my list might be top five picks, so it’s unlikely the ‘Hawks will be able to snag them. Why not dream, though?
With all of that being said, let’s take a look at the top ten players that Chicago could select in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft.