The Chicago Blackhawks land young center Josh Norris with the No. 26 overall pick in the latest mock draft from ESPN.com’s Corey Pronman. He’s one of the most plugged-in prospect writers out there, so this indeed signals that Norris is on their radar entering the entry draft on Friday.
Norris is an 18-year-old center who most recently played for the U.S. development team. He rose up the draft boards during last season, eventually finishing at No. 23 on Bob McKenzie’s list and No. 35 on Pronman’s top 100 rankings. Jeff Marek also projected Norris-to-Chicago in his latest mock draft.
With a 6’1, 192-pound frame, he looks like a future NHLer, and could be a good center in the future.
“Norris brings skill and IQ to the Chicago system, as well as versatility in play style and some extra time to sign him, as he heads to the University of Michigan,” Pronman writes. “This is something Chicago values in their prospect selections. Jason Robertson and Jesper Boqvist are also players I've heard rumored to Chicago.”
Norris finished last season with 61 points in 61 games in the U.S. development program. He’s set to go to the University of Michigan next season, so the Blackhawks may not be able to sign him for at least a year. According to Pronman, that’s actually something Chicago management prefers, however.
In our mock draft, we went with defenseman Henri Jokiharju, who isn’t included in Pronman’s mock. He lists Jojiharju as a possible option for the Penguins with the No. 31 pick, but it sounds like there’s a good chance the blue liner drops into the second round.
The other players mentioned by Pronman, Robertson and Boqvist, are also interesting. Robertson is a poor skater but has a monster shot that makes him a potential goal machine in the NHL. He’s ranked No. 23 overall by Pronman and goes No. 28 overall to the Senators in his latest mock draft.
Boqvist is ranked No. 61 by Pronman, who has concerns about his ability to handle physical play and his questionable defense. That might not make him a perfect fit in Chicago, but maybe Blackhawks scouts saw something different in him.