A lot of eyebrows were raised when the Blackhawks selected defenseman Nolan Allan 32nd overall. He was ranked 59th overall in Bob McKenzie's final draft rankings.
For a organization that’s lacking high-end forward talent, it’s a bit of a head scratcher why they went with a defensive defenseman. And when you look at Allan’s stats, that’s exactly what he is.
The Davidson, Saskatchewan native has just 2 goals and 18 assists for 20 points in 41 games with the Prince Albert Raiders as of February 15. Over his WHL career, he has 31 points in 122 games, only 5 goals. While points aren’t everything, especially for a defenseman, rarely do d-men with that kind of statistical profile in junior leagues make an impact in a top 4 role at the NHL level. So why did the Blackhawks select him at the end of the first round with higher upside players available?
Nolan Allan is a low event player. While I wasn’t able to find analytics for this year, in the 8 WHL games he played in his draft eligible year, Allan was in the 95th percentile for preventing zone entries, and in the 84th percentile for corsi against. All data from Mitch Brown’s CHL tracking project.
While Allan’s play style isn’t sexy, the Blackhawks would certainly benefit from his low event game. He’s also able to use his 6’2”, 195 pound frame to his advantage and throw a bone crushing hit every once in a while.
Low event game and size was the theme of the Blackhawks 2021 draft, as the four defensemen they took are 6’1” and above.
Nolan Allan signed his entry-level contract back on September 16, 2021. The nice thing is he’ll play another year in Prince Albert. He’s been their number one defenseman since Kaiden Guhle was traded. He’ll also likely play a season or two in Rockford. The Blackhawks don’t have to rush him at all.
There’s a glut of defensemen in the Blackhawks organization that are solid bets to play at the NHL level, like Alex Vlasic and Wyatt Kaiser. It’s just a matter of if they’ll be able to play more than a bottom pairing role. I’m not sure if Allan fits that bill, but he didn’t pick himself 32nd overall. All we can do is root for him and hope he continues to develop well.