There are a number of young talents available on the board at the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, and the Chicago Blackhawks have made their first selection.
With the 32nd overall pick in the draft, the Blackhawks have selected defenseman Nolan Allan from the Prince Albert Raiders of the WHL. The ‘Hawks originally held the 11th overall pick this year, but surrendered it to the Columbus Blue Jackets just hours ago in the blockbuster trade to acquire defenseman Seth Jones.
Allan, an 18-year-old native of Davidson, Saskatchewan, was not initially projected to be a first-round draft pick. However, he brings some decent size to the ‘Hawks blue line at 6’2 and 194 pounds. The EliteProspects.com draft guide states that “[Allan’s] already an NHL-caliber skater with projectable posture…from that base, Allan defends the rush with NHL-ready fundamentals and a suffocating mentality.”
While he only has two years of experience with the Prince Albert Raiders, Allan had a decent season with the team last year. As a more stay-at-home type of defenseman, he’s only put up eight points in his three seasons, but he was a +16 in 2020. Additionally, he uses his size to his advantage, and has registered 48 PIMS.
Prior to his WHL career, Allan played for a number of other junior teams in Canada, including the Saskatoon Blazers and Humbolt Broncos. He was a standout player during his time with these teams, and helped his club to the playoffs in four straight seasons from 2016 to 2019.
Despite never playing in an international tournament, Allan represented Team Saskatchewan at the 2019 Canada Winter Games, competing in six games.
Some people might find this pick puzzling given that the Blackhawks just traded for Seth Jones. However, it is obvious that general manager Stan Bowman has something that he likes about the youngster to have him slide so far up the draft board, given that he probably could’ve been picked tomorrow.
Is this pick the best first-round selection that Stan Bowman has ever made? No, it’s not. However, if Allan takes some more time to develop, there is a chance that he could turn into a workhorse NHL defenseman one day. It will likely take a number of years, but the Blackhawks don’t mind taking time to develop their prospects, as we’ve seen the past few seasons.
The true test will come at training camp, where Blackhawks fans will get the first look at the defenseman and all that he has to offer.
Welcome to the Chicago Blackhawks, Nolan Allan, and good luck!