A Deep Dive into Potential #19 Selections for the Blackhawks
By Kyle Graden
While the #1 pick is certainly the highlight for the Chicago Blackhawks, as it should be as it is Connor Bedard, we do have another very valuable pick to make. As I mentioned in my prior article the Florida Panthers advancement has netted the Blackhawks the #19 pick (acquired from the Lightning in the Brandon Hagel deal).
Today I'd like to look at some players I believe that Kyle Davidson should target if he stays at #19 (not trading up or back):
Note: In the past 30-50 days some prospects have risen and fallen and I have adjusted this list accordingly.
TARGET: PLAYERS THAT MAY SLIP TO #19
In this section I think there will likely be a few players from this list; Colby Barlow, Brayden Yager, Andrew Cristall, Gavin Brindley, Oliver Bonk, Samuel Honzek, Gabriel Perreault, or Nate Danielson, that may reach #19. Of those 8 listed players I see the forwards Honzek and Brindley as the 2 that could be available when we pick. I love both of their games for very different reasons though. Brindley is a gritty, improving work-aholic type of undersized wing. He exudes effort in all areas on the ice. While undersized, Brindley projects as a versatile middle 6 wing. Honzek, on the other hand, is a player that has a ton of natural skill. His in tight hands and decision making is top notch for his age group. Honzek, if I had to guess, has the eye of GMs as high as picks 8 through 12, but there is a chance he makes it all the way into the late teens due to the depth of talent in this draft.
TARGET: PLAYERS THAT ARE VIEWED AS LATE 1ST ROUND PICKS
Here is where it gets subjective. I understand that every true scout has a list of skill traits that they go by and that some differ on which ones are truly more important to acheive NHL status. I'm certainly different when it comes to projections as I don't take consensus lists into my methods. Here are some of the players I think project to 20-32 that maybe Kyle Davidson should consider:
Etienne Morin, Mathieu Cataford, Otto Stenberg, Koehn Ziemmer, Beau Akey, Callum Ritchie, Riley Heidt, and Bradley Nadeau are a group of 8 players that I feel are all fringe 1st rounders that could potentially be top 6 / top 4 NHL mainstays one day. I see Riley Heidt and see a guy that at one point I thought was a pick in the 9-15 range and now is likely a late 20s to early 30s selection. He is a talent, has tremendous offensive IQ, and great hands for tape to tape in close passing. He was constantly improving with Prince George and while he could still go in the teens, it's expected that he reaches the 20s with size and skating concerns. The second player I would consider from this group is Beau Akey. I'm a little more bullish on him than most and a pick at #19 for him would surprise most. This is a really good right shot defender for Barrie and while it will take some time, he projects as a dependable top 4 player at all levels. He is a blue liner I don't see having any major red flags. If he makes it to the second round, any team that drafts him will be getting amazing value.
TARGET: SPECIALITY PLAYERS WITH 1ST ROUND GRADES
Alot has been said about the forward depth in this draft having complete games, but players with defined traits are also needed in the NHL. There are going to be some players in this area (at #19) that have such roles that we should look at. Eduard Sale as a power play right dot shooter, Michael Hrabel and Carson Bjarnason whom are the top 2 goalies, and Lukas Dragicevic and Mikhail Gulyayev as power play quarterbacks all come to mind first. I look at Hrabel and I see a #1 goalie. He is still raw and has had some down moments, but his size (6'6) and athletic movement post to post is unrivaled in this draft. He is expected to go 25-40 range, but I wouldn't be upset if Davidson pulled the trigger at 19 for him. Dragicevic is a player that has been yo-yo'ing through draft boards over the months from 10 to 20, even top of the 2nd at times. This is a good sized, puck on a string blue liner that will be an NHL power play quarterback someday. While I know Kevin Korchinski already has that role for our future, it could be wise to double down on that all too important role by drafting Lukas Dragicevic.
So to recap there were 6 players I am eyeing, with a ton of options that could be on the board at #19. Two players I hope slide to the spot are: Sam Honzek and Gavin Brindley. The two players I wouldn't be upset if we took a bit early are Riley Heidt or Beau Akey. Finally, Michael Hrabel and Lukas Dragicevic may not be needs this high in the draft with their specific roles already defined, but they are worthy to be selected that high.
It's now exactly 45 days until the draft, I will continue to hit home these articles on draft prospects and potential Blackhawks' decisions upcoming.