The Blackhawks have always drafted the best player available, and it has worked out for them for a while, but they have to draft with a blueprint in mind.
The Blackhawks have drafted Adam Boqvist and Nicolas Beaudin in 2018, with a smaller, offensively skilled blueprint in mind. They then drafted Kirby Dach, adding more of a power forward to their lineup. In 2020, the team drafted Lukas Reichel, who has some good size to him at 6’0″, 176 lbs (should be bigger, about 180-185 lbs by the start of the season). As the later rounds went, the Blackhawks obviously targeted size.
Each team is built in a way that establishes an identity: The Tampa Bay Lightning are a fast, yet physical team who can still destroy you offensively. Never take an unneeded penalty against them. The Montreal Canadiens are frustratingly physical and get in your face with bruising defensemen that cause the opposition fits as they try to score on one of the best goalies in the league. As the NHL progresses into the Stanley Cup semi-finals, there is a clear theme between the four remaining teams: Size and skill. Neither team is small, and neither team lacks offensive firepower.
The Blackhawks have the offensive firepower, but they lacked size. They were outmuscled and bullied, and Stan Bowman noticed that. Adam Gaudette should be returning next season as he bulks up and could prove to be a great mix of grit and skill. He will join Mike Hardman and Mackenzie Entwhistle as the Blackhawks hope those two players will also develop into physical, yet responsible assets to the roster.
The team has an opportunity to add more size and skill to the lineup in the upcoming draft with a blueprint of adding size without bypassing the skill needed to succeed. In my opinion, as stated before, Mason McTavish and Colton Dach are can’t-miss players. The team has to build around Kirby Dach and Alex Debrincat, and adding more size (Debrincat plays bigger than his size) has to be the team’s top priority.
Each team has been built around a core of players, those who they want to set the example. The Boston Bruins of 2013 were big, fast, and skilled after Patrice Bergeron and Milan Lucic. The Blackhawks of 2009-2017 were fast and relentless after Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. The current Blackhawks have to look and choose their next core and build around them, not stand around and try to spend another year figuring it out.
They have to figure this out fast as Patrick Kane isn’t getting any younger.