Bowman will have six picks, including two in the fourth round, but none is more important than the No. 3 overall pick. The Blackhawks selected University of North Dakota freshman Jonathan Toews the last time they had the No. 3 pick in 2006.
No pressure, right?
Being able to accurately project which players the Blackhawks will draft with their six selections, assuming they keep them all, is impossible. But looking at past trends and prospect rankings, we can attempt to narrow down the types of players Chicago might consider. We’ll use prospect rankings from the following sources:
The Blackhawks have made 79 selections since Bowman became GM on July 14, 2009. Those 79 selections under Bowman include 44 forwards, 27 defensemen and eight goaltenders.
Bowman has used 25 percent of those picks on Canadian Hockey League players. Of the CHL picks, eight have come from the Ontario Hockey League, seven from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and five from the Western Hockey League. Chicago has selected two players from one club in each CHL league: Saginaw (OHL), Victoriaville (QMJHL) and Portland (WHL)
Here’s how the picks breakdown:
Sweden: 13 (3 Brynas IF, 2 Skelleftea AIK, 2 Linkoping HC, 2 Sodertalje SK)
USHL: 11 (2 Chicago, 2 Green Bay, 2 Lincoln, 2 Muskegon, 2 Waterloo)
United States National Development Program: 8
USHS: 6 (3 Cape Cod Whalers MHSL)
Junior A: 6 (4 AJHL, 1 BCHL, 1 OJHL)
Finland: 4 (2 Jokerit)
Russia: 4 (2 St. Petersburg)
Czech Republic: 1
*The locations of the picks are based on their draft season and not previous stops along the way. Numbers in parentheses indicate multiple selections from one team under Bowman.
Among Bowman’s nine first-round picks, six have been forwards — five centers — three are defensemen and Ryan Hartman is the lone winger. When doing SB Nation’s mock draft, Second City Hockey selected USNTDP center Alex Turcotte over WHL defenseman Bowen Byram and WHL center Dylan Cozens. The Blackhawks will pick who they believe to be the best player available at No. 3, so trends don’t apply here.
Bowman has never used a second-round pick on a center. He’s selected six wingers and six defensemen and WHL goaltender Kent Simpson. Half of those wingers have come from the OHL and two defensemen were from USNTDP. Using those two trends along with prospect rankings, there isn’t a prospect that truly fits the mold.
Center/winger Connor McMichael of OHL London is the closest one to it.
Button: No. 22
Robinson: No. 34
Wheeler: No. 46
Pronman: No. 51
NHL Central Scouting: No. 24 North American
McMichael was also a teammate with current Blackhawks prospect Adam Boqvist in London. If McMichael is available, Bowman’s history shows he’d consider picking the forward.
USNTDP defenseman Alex Vlasic could be option as well.
Button: No. 53
Robinson: No. 55
Wheeler: No. 78
Pronman: No. 24
NHL Central Scouting: No. 38 NA
He’s a left-handed shot with a big frame at 6-foot-6 that skates well for his size. The Wilmette, Illinois native will play for Boston University next season with current Blackhawks prospect Jake Wise.
The Blackhawks don’t hold a third-round pick, so let’s skip to the fourth round where they have two at Nos. 105 and 123. Among Bowman’s 11 fourth-round picks, there are four centers (two QMJHL), four defensemen (two from Sweden), three foreign-born wingers and zero goaltenders. Fredrik Olofsson was born in Sweden, but played in the USHL with Green Bay Gamblers and Chicago Steel in his draft year. Seven of those 11 picks are foreign-born players, including four from Sweden.
Finnish left wingers Aleks Haatanen of Pelicans Jr. A Liiga and Kristian Tanus of Tappara in Liiga fit the foreign-born player. Pronman has them ranked Nos. 104 and 105, respectively. Button, Robinson and Wheeler do not have either one of them ranked. Tanus is ranked No. 74 by NHL Central Scouting among European skaters.
The closest ranked QMJHL center to Chicago’s pick by Pronman is Russian Mikhail Abramov of Victoriaville at No. 96. Victoriaville is also the only QMJHL team Bowman has drafted multiple players from with 2011 first-round center Phillip Danault and 2012 seventh-round goaltender Brandon Whitney. Wheeler does not have Abramov ranked.
The four defensemen include two Swedes, one American and one Finn. Martin Hugo Has of Tappara and Antti Tuomisto of Assat are both defensemen that stand above 6-foot-3 that look to play next season in Liiga. There’s not a Swedish defenseman listed anywhere close to Chicago’s pick by any of the rankings.
Pronman: No. 101
Robinson: No. 88
NHL Central Scouting: No. 38 European
Button: No. 83
Robinson: No. 39
Wheeler: No. 91
Pronman: No. 77
NHL Central Scouting: No. 15 European
The Blackhawks don’t have a fifth-round pick after trading it’s own to Arizona in the Marian Hossa deal last July and sending the one they acquired from Tampa Bay in January in the Jan Rutta-Slater Koekkoek trade to Pittsburgh on Saturday for defenseman Olli Maatta. Chicago has 11 sixth-round pick under Bowman with five forwards, four defensemen and two goaltenders. Bowman hasn’t selected a goaltender in an odd year since Johan Mattson in 2011, so we can probably rule that out for this year.
The only striking trend in the sixth round is three Illinois natives have been picked in this round: Vinnie Hinostroza of Bartlett, Anthony Louis of Winfield and Roy Radke of Geneva. USNTDP forward Owen Lindmark of Naperville fits the trend.
This is the goalie round for Bowman with four netminders selected in the past. He’s also taken four forwards (three wingers) and three defensemen. Three picks have come from Sweden, including two from Sodertalje, and three from the USHL.