Chicago will start its draft with the No. 17 overall pick Oct. 6 and then move to the next day with the No. 46 overall pick in the second round. Bowman has two picks in the third round then has a pick in each of the next three rounds.
The goalie position has the most question marks for the immediate and long term future.
The Blackhawks are hopeful they can re-sign unrestricted free agent Corey Crawford, who was reportedly offered a one-year, $3.5 million contract. Collin Delia, 26, was set to be the No. 2 goalie last year until Robin Lehner signed as a free agent, and Delia’s status seems unclear now with restricted free agent Malcolm Subban, 26, being selected as the backup in the postseason.
Behind Subban and Delia — who played the 2019-20 season in the AHL after a brief NHL stint the season before — the Blackhawks have Kevin Lankinen, 25, and Matt Tomkins, 26, in the AHL. Lankinen had a strong start to the AHL season, but a shoulder injury ended his season early. Tomkins earned an NHL contract, but only played 13 games this past season.
Chicago’s goalie prospect pool is bare after the Blackhawks decided not to sign Wouter Peeters, a 2016 third-round pick, and Alexis Gravel, a 2018 sixth-round pick, before their draft rights expired. Ivan Nalimov, 26, and Dominic Basse, 19, are the only unsigned goalie prospects. Nalimov signed in the AHL, but returned to Russia and the Blackhawks still hold his rights. Basse, a 2019 sixth-round pick, is a freshman at Colorado College and probably won’t sign until at least 2023.
The Blackhawks have drafted nine goalies since 2010, including three since 2016. Basse was the first goalie taken in an odd year since 2011. It was also the first time Chicago took goalies in back-to-back years since 2011-12 when they selected three: Johan Mattsson (2011 seventh), Tomkins and Brandon Whitney (2012 seventh).
Chicago needs to draft a goalie to put another young player at the position in its system, but the Blackhawks seem fine with finding goalies through free agency or in Europe.
Chicago has selected six defensemen in the first two rounds in the past four years, including three in the first round. The Blackhawks have taken 13 defensemen since 2016 and six of them (Adam Boqvist, Nicolas Beaudin, Chad Krys, Lucas Carlsson, Blake Hillman, Henri Jokiharju) have made their professional debut in the AHL or NHL.
The top end of the defensive prospect pool remains heavy on the right side with Boqvist, Ian Mitchell and Alec Regula. Beaudin, Lucas Carlsson, Dennis Gilbert, Wyatt Kalynuk and Alex Vlasic lead the pack on the left side.
If the Blackhawks draft defensemen, the left side still looks to be the better option to add to because the ceiling of the current group isn’t as high as Boqvist and Mitchell.
Kirby Dach, the No. 3 pick in last year’s draft, started to cement himself as Chicago’s No. 2 center during the postseason behind Jonathan Toews. Restricted free agent Dylan Strome is the No. 3 center, but he’ll need to be re-signed. In the pipeline, Chicago has Philipp Kurashev and the often injured Mikael Hakkarainen in the AHL but they could easily slide to wing. Evan Barratt, who signed this past spring after three seasons at Penn State, looks to play next season in the AHL before potentially breaking through at center or wing in the NHL in 2021.
The Blackhawks did draft Antti Saarela last year in the fourth round, but he’s more of a winger and a few years away from coming over from Finland to North America. Jake Wise, a junior at Boston University, is Chicago’s only true unsigned center prospect.
The Blackhawks would be smart to draft a center early and probably draft at least another one in the middle rounds.
The Blackhawks have a fair share of wingers in the system. Pius Suter, a left-handed shot who can also play center, is expected to contend for an NHL roster spot. Brandon Hagel, who was the Blackhawks’ AHL MVP last season, will be one of the first players in line for a NHL call up. Michal Teply dominated the WHL and will start his first pro season in the AHL. Cam Morrison, a former Avalanche prospect and Notre Dame standout, is in the fold now and Andrei Altybarmakyan signed to make the trip over from Russia. Hagel, Morrison and Teply all primarily play at left wing, while Altybarmakyan is a left-handed shot that plays on the right side.
Europeans Artur Kayumov (LW, KHL Lokomotiv) and Niklas Nordgren (RW, Liiga HIFK) are the top unsigned winger prospects. Kayumov signed a two-year KHL contract last year and Nordgren needs to stay healthy to be considered worth signing. Left wingers Parker Foo (KHL Kunlun) and Josiah Slavin (Colorado College sophomore) are both unsigned and long shots for the NHL.
A winger on the right side remains more of a need than the left side.
Which position is the most pressing the Blackhawks need to address in the 2020 NHL Draft?
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