2021 NHL Draft: Blackhawks select Connor Kelley with No. 204 pick

A young defenseman from Minnesota is one of Chicago’s seventh-round picks.

The Blackhawks have two picks in the seventh round of the 2021 NHL Draft.

With the first one, they selected defenseman Connor Kelly with the No. 204 overall pick.

Kelley, 19, is a 6-foot-1, 190-pound, right-handed shot who just completed his freshman season at Minnesota-Duluth. One of his teammates there is Wyatt Kaiser, the Blackhawks’ third-round pick (No. 81 overall) in the 2020 NHL Draft. Like Kaiser, Kelley is a Minnesota native, hailing from Maple Grove in the northwest suburbs of Minneapolis.

In 25 games for the Bulldogs, Kelley notched three goals and two assists and blocked 19 shots. Kelley arrived at UMD after spending two years with the USNTDP junior program in the USHL.

Here’s a brief description of Kelley from Recruit Scouting (link includes a few short video clips):

He’s failed to be featured in many rankings from public scouts, with his overager status and low scoring making him potentially-easy to overlook. But Kelley is a very promising prospect who has found a unique way to blend the rugged defense taught in college with the creative, instinct-based offense instilled in USNTDP players. It combines to create a very distinct talent, and one that became the spark behind a strong UMD team this season.