Blackhawks Top 25 Under 25 for 2016, No. 23: Graham Knott
The Hawks' top pick from 2015 comes in at No. 23 on the Top 25 Under 25 list.
Graham Knott, the Hawks' top pick from the 2015 NHL Draft, is No. 23 on our Top 25 Under 25 rankings. Knott was selected in the second round (No. 54 overall) over a year ago, when Chicago didn't have a first-round selection because of the Antoine Vermette trade. The 19-year-old has spent the past three seasons playing in the OHL for the Niagara Ice Dogs.
Birth date: Jan. 13, 1997
Acquired via: Second round (No. 54 overall) in 2015 NHL Entry Draft
Most recent stop: Niagara Ice Dogs (OHL)
Size: 6'3, 191 pounds
Highest ranking: No. 18
Lowest ranking: Not ranked
Knott was the Hawks' top selection in the 2015 draft, when the team didn't have a first-round pick. He's a big, strong skater who already has an NHL frame, but his performance in the OHL has been underwhelming. Assistant GM Norm Maciver hinted at that to The Athletic's Scott Powers while noting that the team remains hopeful:
"I think the thing our development staff liked about Graham was his progression through the year," Maciver said. "Sort of an average season, but I thought according to our guys he played very well in the playoffs, was a very good player for Niagara in the playoffs and a very important player for them. Really happy with the way he finished his season. Hopefully he continues that and carries that in the fall."
Knott recorded 42 points in 68 OHL games last season, a step down from 43 points in 59 games the year before. For a player who was drafted relatively high up, the lack of progress is the biggest concern yet. Still, Knott is young and has potential.
When the Hawks originally drafted Knott over a year ago, they claimed to be thrilled with the result. "The Knott kid we were very, very high on," Mark Kelley, the Hawks' vice president of amateur scouting, said in 2015. "It's cliche to say he was there when we picked, but we had targeted him coming into the draft. We like where he's at. We like where we think he's going to get to."
So the team clearly wanted Knott, and believes he can utilize his size to be effective at the next level, but at this point he's still a work-in-progress. As one of the few true power forward prospects in the system, it'll be interesting to watch his development from here.
What's next in 2016-17
Knott will return to Niagara in the OHL for one more season, then make a decision on his career in the spring. If he plays well for the Ice Dogs, there's a good chance that the Blackhawks will offer him an entry-level contract next year, when he'll still be just 20 years old.
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Second City Hockey's Top 25 Under 25 rankings
No. 23: Graham Knott
No. 24: Anthony Louis
No. 25: Roy Radke
Honorable mentions: Radovan Bondra, Joni Tuulola, Mathias From, John Dahlstrom, Lucas Carlsson