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2019 NHL Draft: Second round options for Blackhawks

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Which players should Chicago target at No. 43 overall?

2016 NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7 Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

After a second consecutive season without playoff hockey in Chicago, general manager Stan Bowman and his front office colleagues have massive decisions ahead of them. Decisions that restore the possibility of contending for another Stanley Cup while Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are still in their primes, as well as those that stabilize the Blackhawks’ future once all of the core pieces have hung up their skates.

First on the offseason checklist is the NHL Draft coming up this weekend in Vancouver. The hockey gods were kind to the Blackhawks and gifted them the No. 3 overall selection. Undoubtedly, it’s an opportunity for Bowman to select an elite NHL prospect that could become the face of the franchise. If you want to read up on the options at No. 3 overall, check out our Draft Guide for draft profiles, analysis, predictions and more.

In this article, Ian McLaren and I are focusing on the Blackhawks’ second round pick, No. 43 overall. Although the value of the picks in the second round drop drastically compared to the first round, there have been numerous examples in the past decade that suggest hidden gems can be unearthed after the first 31 picks on day one of the draft.

Second round ‘gems’ from 2010 - 2016

2010

2011

  • John Gibson, 39th (G, Anaheim Ducks, NHL All-Star)
  • Brandon Saad, 43rd (LW, Blackhawks)
  • Nikita Kucherov, 58th (RW, Tampa Bay Lightning, NHL All-Star, 2018-19 Art Ross Trophy winner and Hart Trophy finalist)

2012

2014

  • Brandon Montour, 55th (D, Anaheim Ducks, traded to Buffalo Sabres during 2018-19 season)

2015

  • Sebastian Aho, 35th (LW/RW, Carolina Hurricanes, NHL All-Star)
  • Roope Hintz, 49th (C, Dallas Stars)

2016

Bowman’s second round history

2010

  • Ludvig Rensfeldt, LW, 35th overall: Never made it to the NHL. Recently signed a two-year contract with Orebro HK of the SHL (Swedish Hockey League).
  • Justin Holl, D, 54th: Split time between the ECHL’s Indy Fuel and the Rockford IceHogs during 2014-15 season. Did not sign a deal with Chicago and ended up signing with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2016. He has played in 13 games for Toronto.
  • Kent Simpson, G, 58th: Signed a three-year entry level deal with Chicago in 2012. Appeared in one NHL game for the Blackhawks during 2013-14 season. Traded to the New York Islanders along with Nick Leddy in October 2014. Bounced around and has not made it back to the NHL.

2011

  • Adam Clendening, D, 36th: Made his NHL debut for Chicago on Nov. 20, 2014. Scored on his first shot. Traded to the Vancouver Canucks for Gustav Forsling in January of 2015. Ended up with the Arizona Coyotes and was traded back to the Blackhawks with Anthony Duclair in January of 2018. Signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets as a free agent during the 2018 offseason.
  • Saad, LW, 43rd: Won two Stanley Cups with the Blackhawks in 2013 and 2015. Traded to Columbus in June of 2015. Returned to the Blackhawks following a trade involving Artemi Panarin in June of 2017.

2012

  • Dillon Fournier, D, 48th: Signed a three-year entry level deal with Chicago in March of 2014. Retired due to chronic shoulder issues in 2017.

2013

2014: No second round pick.

2015

2016

  • DeBrincat, RW, 39th: Already a star in Chicago and the NHL. Just completed a 41-goal campaign in 2018-19. Entering the final year of his entry-level contract.
  • Chad Krys, D, 45th: Signed three year $925,000 entry level deal in March. Reported to Rockford near end of 2018-19 season and had 4 assists in nine games.
  • Artur Kayumov, LW, 50th: Tallied 13 points in 46 games with Lokomotiv Yaroslav, which tied him for 11th in points for players aged 22-years and younger in the KHL. Plans to sign with Chicago following the 2019-2020 season.

2017

2018: No second round pick.

2019 second round options for Blackhawks

After considering rankings and scouting reports from a few sources (Corey Pronman and Scott Wheeler - The Athletic; Craig Button and Bob McKenzie - TSN; Cam Robinson - Dobber Prospects), Ian and I have each laid out two possible options that Bowman could pick at No. 43 overall. There is a possibility that Bowman is considering trading this pick. However, if he doesn’t, pick No. 43 offers an appetizing selection of prospects that just missed the cut to be ranked as first rounders.

Matt’s Picks

Alex Vlasic
Age: 18
Height: 6’6”
Weight: 198 lbs
Position: D, left-handed
Team: U.S. National Development Team Program (USNTDP)
2018-19 Stats: 88 GP, 42 points (6 G, 36 A)
Highlights:

Rankings

Pronman: 24
Wheeler: 78
McKenzie: 29
Button: 53

What are the scouts and former coaches saying?

Pronman - “He understands how to attack, how to move pucks, when to jump into lanes and how to use his long wingspan to break up plays.” When he is at his best, Vlasic is a “creative puck-mover with solid defense who uses his size to lean on his checks.”

Vlasic’s USNTDP coach, John Wroblewski: “He’s a massive individual with an unbelievable defensive stick to break up plays. He’s got a physical edge. He can play an offensive style and takes chances. For a big man, his skating is off the charts good; it’s very fluid.”

Why should Vlasic be an option for Chicago?

Vlasic’s doubters have raised concerns about his inconsistency and frequent turnovers when his ‘A’ game doesn’t show up. However, his potential is just too much to pass up if he’s still available at No. 43. He’s huge, not afraid to jump up on an offensive rush, skates well for his size, is creative with the puck and has a knack for generating scoring chances with give-and-go’s off the blue line. After some seasoning in the NCAA with Boston Univ., Vlasic could offer Chicago a tower on the blue line that could clog up shooting lanes, force turnovers with his physicality, decrease zone entries for the puck carrier due to his gigantic wingspan and surprise opponents with his offensive skillset.

Albin Grewe
Age: 18
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 187 lbs
Position: RW/C, left-handed
Team: Djurgardens (SWE J20)
2018-19 Stats: 25 GP, 34 points (13 G, 21 A)
Highlights:

Rankings

Pronman: 48
Wheeler: 40
McKenzie: 48
Button: 41

What are the scouts saying?

Pronman: I remember him barreling down the wing with speed, going to the net hard, finishing his checks hard and showing his skill. After one dominant stretch, a hockey executive turned to me and exclaimed: “I want him on my team!”

Robinson: “A high-energy player with speed, physicality and offensive instincts. Terrific one-on-one skills. Is likely projected to a middle six role, but his blend of tools will make him a fan favorite and an opponent’s nightmare.”

Wheeler: “The aggression and confidence he displayed in SuperElit didn’t regularly translate in the SHL this season — and that’s normal — but there were flashes of it and I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a breakout year in an increased role next year. Give him two or three years and there might be something really interesting there.”

Why should Grewe be an option for Chicago?

In a recent interview with Jeremey Colliton on a Hawks Talk podcast, he discussed the need for more grit, physicality and high-energy in the Blackhawks lineup. Grewe has become infamous in any league he plays in for being a player you love to have on your team, but hate to play against. He forechecks relentlessly and doesn’t miss a chance to finish a check. Combine that with an impressive offensive skillset and a fearlessness to drive the net, Grewe could be a valuable asset in the bottom six.

Ian’s Picks

Simon Holmstrom
Age: 18
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 192 lbs
Position: RW, left-handed
Team: HV71 (SWE J20)
2018-19 Stats: 21 GP, 20 points (7 G, 13 A)
Highlights:

Rankings

Pronman: 46
Wheeler: 55
McKenzie: 43
Button: 43

What are the scouts saying?

“Holmström is an excellent playmaker from the wing. He has very good vision, and he can make crisp passes. He also has a great shot which makes him a dual-threat. He’s a very talented skater who combines speed with agility. Holmström could be a faller in the NHL Entry Draft because of the injury concerns. But if he’s still available in the second round, his upside is definitely worth a selection there.” – Jokke Nevalainen, DobberProspects

Why should Holmstrom be an option for Chicago?

I’m a big proponent of taking the most talented player available, positional needs be damned. At one time, Holmstrom was projected to be a clear cut first-round pick, until multiple and various injuries derailed his draft season. Nevertheless, he’s got high-end talent and remains worth the gamble. Holmstrom has yet to play in North America and would need some seasoning before getting a crack at the NHL, but he’s got the size and skill to succeed at any level.

Lassi Thomson
Age: 18
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 190 lbs
Position: D, right-handed
Team: Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
2018-19 Stats: 63 GP, 41 points (17 G, 24 A)
Highlights:

Rankings

Pronman: 42
Wheeler: 39
McKenzie: 30
Button: 57

What are the scouts saying?

“He’s not big but he has a big shot from the blue line. And it’s not just a heavy shot, it’s pretty accurate as well. His playmaking abilities aren’t quite as good but they’re pretty good as well. He’s also developed a lot as a skater this season, and it’s a strength for him now. That skating ability allows him to be a good transitional defenseman. His defensive game needs a lot of work before he’s ready to play in the NHL.” – Jokke Nevalainen, Dobber Prospects

Why should Thomson be an option for Chicago?

This Finnish defenseman is anything but a finished product, but his potential reeks of a second-round steal. As you can see from the rankings, the draft experts are all over the board when it comes to Thomson. He’s not the biggest at his position, but he has the wherewithal to make up for it at both ends of the ice. His strength, however, is playing with the puck - he possesses a wicked shot, can make the smart pass (although seems prone to the odd turnover), and excels on special teams.

The Blackhawks already have a similar prospect in Adam Boqvist, but given some time, Thomson could make for an excellent 2PP quarterback and give Chicago even more mobility from the back end, making this group even more difficult to handle.

Poll

Who would you select at No. 43 (if they are still available)?

This poll is closed

  • 45%
    Vlasic
    (148 votes)
  • 38%
    Grewe
    (125 votes)
  • 13%
    Holmstrom
    (44 votes)
  • 3%
    Thomson
    (11 votes)
328 votes total Vote Now