Blackhawks: What position does the team need to focus on at the draft?
The 2021 NHL Entry Draft will be upon us in a matter of weeks, and there are a number of players that the Chicago Blackhawks could use to bolster their roster.
The Blackhawks are a team that could, in theory, use help at every position on the ice. The club’s goaltending situation is uncertain, their defense was mostly horrendous this past season, and their total goals for was only the 16th best in the NHL.
However, general manager Stan Bowman will soon have a chance to add to the team’s roster of prospects. The Blackhawks hold the 11th overall pick at the draft this year. Beyond that, they’ll have seven additional selections, including a pair of second-round picks at 44th and 62nd overall.
Given the current state of the team, Chicago could use some young players at every position, but there are some areas where their prospect pool is deeper than others. With this being said, what position should the ‘Hawks focus on going into the Entry Draft?
As previously stated, some of the team’s prospect pools have more players behind them than others. The most obvious area where this can be seen is in the offense. Per CapFriendly, the team currently has 11 non-rostered forwards, including last year’s first-round draft pick, Lukas Reichel. This isn’t even considering ‘prospects’ who did play on the team last year, like MacKenzie Entwistle or Mike Hardman.
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Additionally, the Blackhawks also have a decent, albeit aging, top-six forward core, with Patrick Kane and (hopefully) Jonathan Toews anchoring the top two lines next year. This being the case, I just don’t think that the forward position is what Bowman should focus on.
Goaltending will continue to be an issue, so if Jesper Wallstedt is available at 11th overall, I sincerely hope the Blackhawks grab him. Beyond that, I’d expect Chicago to try and focus on defense first at the draft. They haven’t selected a first-round defenseman since Adam Boqvist in 2018. Assuming Wallstedt is their top pick this year, I believe they should focus on defense for rounds two through seven, especially after the issues last season with keeping the puck out of the net.
This isn’t to say that the team won’t select any forwards this year. However, it seems that Stan Bowman has a tendency to draft based on the talent available, not necessarily based on positional needs. Despite this, though, I’d be surprised if at least the higher draft selections this year aren’t blueliners. While the Blackhawks have a long way to go to get back to their championship ways, grabbing some good defensemen at the draft would be a decent place to start.
Round One of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft will be held virtually on July 23. Rounds Two through Seven will be held on July 24.