Blackhawks 2004 draft evaluation

By Brad Gardner

The Blackhawks picked an incredible 17 times in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, coming away with current NHLers Cam Barker, Dave Bolland, and Troy Brouwer. Chicago’s first three selections from this draft have logged a combined 251 NHL games. All told, this draft class played 382 games, for a per-pick average of 22.5.
 
Cam Barker, D

Round 1, 3rd overall
Status: NHL player
NHL Games Played: 149

There was a drop-off in talent after the first two picks in 2004, Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin, but the Blackhawks are beginning to see returns on their third overall pick. The 6’3 213-pound Cam Barker was billed as a balanced defenseman coming from the WHL‘s Medicine Hat Tigers and he has developed into a steady defender for Chicago. His real value has shown in the offensive end, especially on the power play, where he can utilize his sound passing and booming shot. Barker played in a career-high 68 NHL games this season after beginning the season with the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate Rockford IceHogs. He scored six goals and chipped in 34 assists for a career-high 40 points on the season, ranking him third among Chicago defensemen. Five goals and 24 assists came on the power play. Through 14 playoff contests, Barker has continued to contribute with three goals and five assists. While the Hawks may not have gotten the elite, franchise player one might expect from a third overall pick, Barker has taken huge strides this season in his development on both ends of the ice. He will be a restricted free agent at season’s end.

Dave Bolland, C
Round 2, 32nd overall
Status: NHL player
NHL Games Played: 121

With the second pick in the second round, Chicago drafted Bolland from the London Knights. Primarily a scorer with the Knights, Bolland accumulated 299 points, including 135 goals, in four OHL seasons. Like Barker, the 22-year-old Bolland stepped into a large role with the Blackhawks this season and experienced his most successful pro season to date. Bolland spent a bulk of the year centering the Blackhawks so-called checking line with Andrew Ladd, coincidentally the fourth overall pick in 2004, and Martin Havlat. Bolland played in 81 regular season games, finishing with 19 goals and 47 points, both career highs. His plus-19 rating is not only evidence of his strong two-way game but it is also an impressive stat considering his line was often matched up against opponents’ top lines. Bolland’s defensive prowess was also important to the penalty-killing unit and he ranked second on the team with two goals and four points shorthanded. In the playoffs, Bolland has posted four goals and five assists in 14 games. While there have been questions all season about the Blackhawks center position behind Jonathan Toews, Bolland’s performance this season has helped bolster that depth. Bolland will also be a restricted free agent after this season.

Bryan Bickell, LW
Round 2, 41st overall
Status: NHL prospect
NHL Games Played: 7

The second of four picks by the Blackhawks in the second round, Bickell has spent the last three seasons playing in the AHL. After posting 19 goals and 20 assists in the 2007-08 season with Rockford, Bickell battled injuries this season and only played in 42 games with six goals and eight assists. At 6’4 and 218 pounds, Bickell provides a physical presence as a top-six forward in Rockford. He has played in just seven NHL games thus far in his career, though he was called up for the Blackhawks’ playoff run this season. He will be a restricted free agent this summer.

Ryan Garlock, C
Round 2, 45th overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

The Blackhawks chose not to sign Garlock following his OHL career with the Guelph Storm and Windsor Spitfires. He became a free agent and has played in the ECHL and AHL over the past three seasons. He has made stops in San Antonio, Binghamton, Springfield, Hershey, and Syracuse in the AHL and spent parts of the past two seasons with the Johnstown Chiefs of the ECHL. Garlock scored four goals and had one assists in 35 AHL games with the Syracuse Crunch this season.

Jakub Sindel, C
Round 2, 54th overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

As the Blackhawks fourth pick in the second round, the team was able to take a bit of a chance on Sindel. Known primarily as a sniper, the Czech-born center has played most of his career in his home country. He joined the Pelicans squad in the Finnish League during this season. The 23-year-old has some experience in North America having spent part of the 2004-05 season with Brandon in the WHL. While the Blackhawks still hold Sindel’s rights, it does not seem likely he will return to North America.

Adam Berti, LW
Round 3, 68th overall
Status: NHL prospect
NHL Games Played: 2

Berti has jumped around Chicago’s affiliates the last few seasons following his OHL career with the Oshawa Generals and Erie Otters. He is a good two-way player, who played 10 games with the IceHogs and 68 games in the ECHL with Fresno and Gwinnett this year. Berti found his scoring touch this season in 39 games with the Gwinnett Gladiators for 10 goals and 24 assists. The 6’3 205 lber will be a restricted free agent this summer and may just find a home in the AHL with another organization as he really didn’t get a chance with the Blackhawks.

Mitch Maunu, D

Round 4, 120nd overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

Maunu was not signed by the Blackhawks. The 6’1 225-pound defenseman made an appearance in pro hockey during the 2006-07 season, submitting five assists in 19 ECHL contests with the Toledo Storm and appearing in nine games with the Norfolk Admirals in the AHL. His past two seasons have been spent in the CIS with the Lakehead University Thunderwolves.

Karel Hromas, LW

Round 4, 123rd overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

Known for his aggressive and physical presence, the 6’2 189-pound Hromas has spent much of his career in his home country with Sparta Praha in the Czech league. Like his countryman Sindel, Hromas also spent time in the WHL, playing two seasons for the Everett Silvertips from 2004-06. Hromas put up two goals and four assists in 52 games this season for Sparta. Also like Sindel, the Blackhawks do have the rights to Hromas but it seems unlikely that he will jump to North America. 

Trevor Kell, RW
Round 5, 131st overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

Kell was not signed by the Blackhawks after his OHL career with the London Knights and Sarnia Sting. He has played the last two seasons primarily in the ECHL with the Trenton Devils, though he has made brief appearances with the AHL’s Lowell Devils as well. In 65 games this season with Trenton, Kell scored 20 goals and added 30 assists. He kept it going into the playoffs where he scored three goals and two assists in seven games.

Jake Dowell, C
Round 5, 140th overall
Status: NHL prospect
NHL Games Played: 20

Dowell was another call-up for Chicago’s playoff push this season. Following his four-year career at the University of Wisconsin, where he was a part of the 2006 national championship squad, Dowell has spent much of his time in the AHL. He did get in 19 games with the Blackhawks during the 2007-08 season and one game this season as a fourth-line center. He enjoyed a solid season in Rockford, scoring six goals and 14 helpers to go along with 128 PIMs in 75 games. Dowell’s solid two-way play and faceoff proficiency make him a strong candidate for that spot in the middle of the fourth line.

Scott McCulloch, LW
Round 6, 165th overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

McCulloch was granted a fifth year of NCAA eligibility this season and played in 27 games for Colorado College, contributing seven goals and six assists for the Tigers. McCulloch, a physical power forward, was not signed by the Blackhawks and opted to join the ECHL’s Las Vegas Wranglers following the end of the Tigers’ season. McCulloch made a splash for the Wranglers, notching five goals and four assists in eight regular season games. He also had four goals and six assists in 18 playoff games before the Wranglers were eliminated in the conference finals. 

Petri Kontiola, C
Round 7, 196th overall
Status: NHL prospect (Anaheim Ducks)
NHL Games Played: 12

Kontiola proved to be a bit of a diamond in the rough for Chicago as he became one of the more prolific scorers for the IceHogs in the past two seasons. Kontiola played for Tappara Tampere in Finland before making the jump to North America in time for the 2007-08 season. The Finnish pivot made an appearance with the Blackhawks, notching five assists in 12 games, but often seemed overmatched in the NHL. Kontiola was included in the trade that brought Samuel Pahlsson to the Blackhawks from the Anaheim Ducks.

Troy Brouwer, RW
Round 7, 214th overall
Status: NHL player
NHL Games Played: 81

The third NHL-regular so far in Chicago’s 2004 draft class, Brouwer stepped into the Hawks line-up after five games in Rockford this year. He scored 10 goals and added 16 assists in 69 NHL games. Brouwer has been shuffled around the Chicago line-up all year and has responded well to playing with the different forward combinations. At 6’2 and 213 pounds, the power forward’s willingness to battle in the corners and along the boards is invaluable to the speedy Hawks. Brouwer will be a restricted free agent at season’s end, and it will be this willingness to do the dirty work that could keep him in the Blackhawks organization.

Jared Walker, C
Round 7, 223rd overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

Walker was an unsigned draft pick. After a WHL career that included time with the Red Deer Rebels and Prince George Cougars, Walker has most recently played for the University of Manitoba in the CIS. In 27 games this season for the Bisons, the 6’3 210-pound power forward scored eight goals and added nine assists.

Eric Hunter, C

Round 8, 229th overall
Status: NHL prospect (New York Rangers)
NHL Games Played: 0

Hunter was released by the Blackhawks, and became eligible again for the entry draft. He was selected in the sixth round, 174th overall by the Rangers in the 2006 draft after a breakout season for the Prince George Cougars. He has played the last two seasons in the CIS with the University of Alberta, accumulating eight goals and 10 assists in 28 games this season.

Matthew Ford, RW
Round 8, 256th overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

The second Wisconsin Badger selected by the Blackhawks in the 2004 draft, Ford was not signed by the Blackhawks. He spent his first professional season in the AHL, playing for both the Hartford Wolf Pack and Lake Erie Monsters, and ECHL with the Charlotte Checkers. In 28 games with the Checkers, the 24-year-old Ford scored 21 goals and 38 points. He also added two goals and three assists in six playoff games.

Mark Anttila, RW

Round 9, 260th overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

The Blackhawks took a shot on the 6’7 200-pound Anttila, who has played five seasons in his home country Finland for Ilves Tampere. He scored eight goals and 22 points to go along with 69 PIMs this season. While the Blackhawks hold Anttila’s rights, it seems unlikely that he will venture to North America.