The Blackhawks made eight selections in the 2009 NHL Entry draft, including six centers and two defensemen. Three draftees, including the first two picks, were drafted out of Canadian Junior A leagues. Chicago GM Dale Tallon believes these leagues are becoming more important to the draft, saying, "I think those leagues have really come a long way… I think it shows a lot of discipline and maturity to not want to be enticed by the junior route and go the college route."
The Blackhawks’ 2009 draft class offers a variety of speed, size, and skill. This diversity also leads to a staggered development program.
"It looks like some of them will be on two, three, four, five-year plans," Tallon explained. "We got a diverse group of big forwards that can skate, some smaller forwards that have skill, so it’s a nice draft for us."
Dylan Olsen, D – 6’2 210 lbs – AJHL, Camrose Kodiaks
Selected first round, 28th overall
Committed to University of Minnesota-Duluth
Olsen impressed Chicago scouts as one of the top defenders for Canada in the U-18 tournament in Fargo in April. His physical and well-rounded game has drawn comparisons to current Blackhawks defensmen Brent Seabrook and Cam Barker. Olsen scored 10 goals and 19 assists in 53 regular season games for the Kodiaks. His 29 total points tied for fourth on the team. Olsen played for Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge where his squad took second. Thanks in large part to his good mobility and huge left-handed shot, Olsen has had success from the point on the power play. He scored five power-play goals last season and should continue to see time on the man-advantage as he takes his game to the next level. Defensively, his size and awareness give him a fair amount of shut-down ability. He’ll look to continue bulking up in the next couple years.
Olsen is committed to the University of Minnesota-Duluth next season, though the possibility remains that he could play in the WHL where Medicine Hat holds his rights.
Brandon Pirri, C – 6’0 170 lbs – OJHL, Georgetown Raiders
Selected second round, 59th overall
Committed to RPI
Another standout from the Junior A level, Pirri ranked third in the OJHL in scoring with 46 goals and 94 points in 44 games. He split time during the season between the Streetsville Derbys and the Georgetown Raiders. In the Raiders’ 14 playoff games, the skilled center contributed eight goals, including two game-winners, and 13 assists. Pirri played in the league’s Senior All-Star game, where he was a teammate of fellow-Chicago prospect Braden Birch, and was awarded the B.J. Munro Memorial Award given to OJHL player with the most potential to play hockey at the professional level. He also represented Canada in the World Junior A Challenge where he teamed up with another Chicago pick, David Pacan, on the Canada East team which finished third. While Pirri has shown the ability to put the puck in the net, his strong offensive awareness and superior playmaking skills are the best aspects of his offensive game.
Pirri is committed to RPI of the ECAC for the 2009-10 season.
Dan Delisle, C – 6’4 222 lbs – Minn. HS, Totino Grace
Selected third round, 89th overall
Committed to University of Minnesota-Duluth
One target for the Blackhawks in this draft was a big center and Delisle certainly fits the bill. A finalist for the Minnesota Mr. Hockey award last year, Delisle led his squad with 33 goals and 66 points in 28 games. While size has certainly contributed to his success, particularly at the high school level, he brings much more to the table. Delisle is a strong skater and uses his combination of size and mobility well in both ends. He captained his high school team in his senior season, so the intangibles are present as well. Delisle plays with great hockey sense in addition to his leadership qualities. Like Olsen, Delisle is set to join the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs next season.
Though he was not drafted into the WHL, Froese was one of the bright spots for the Everett Silvertips last season. He also joined Canada’s U-18 team in Fargo, where his strong defensive play helped his stock rise even higher. Froese projects as a fourth-liner in the pro ranks, but he was quite productive in his first season with Everett. In 72 games, Froese scored 19 goals and 38 points. His 57 total points ranked third on the team. Tallon and the ‘Hawks like Froese’s two-way game.
"He’s a good solid two-way center," Tallon said. "He’s a good faceoff guy, very intelligent player, reliable. Put him in the last minute of play he wins draws and knows where to go defensively as well."
Froese will continue to play an important role for Everett next season.
Marcus Kruger, C – 5’11 172 lbs – SWE-Jr, Djurgarden-Jr
Selected fifth round, 149th overall
The lone European player in the Blackhawks’ draft class, Kruger is yet another skilled center.
"Our Swedish scout Mats Hallin is very high on him," Tallon explained. "He’s a good energy guy, good skill. He’s a good hockey player – an all-around hockey player. We’re really happy to get him."
In addition to his playmaking skills, Kruger also captained his Djurgarden-Jr squad. The 19-year-old Swede has earned an invite to the World Juniors camp and could very well be included on Sweden‘s U-20 team next spring.
David Pacan, C – 6’3 187 lbs – CJHL, Cumberland Grads
Selected sixth round, 177th overall
Committed to University of Vermont
The Blackhawks went into the draft without a sixth-round pick, but moved a 2010 fifth rounder to Atlanta in exchange for the pick used to draft Pacan. The third player in the ‘Hawks’ class from the Junior A level, Pacan scored 22 goals and 38 assists in 58 games for the Grads. He earned the first-line center spot last season and showed improvement with his increased role. He also played on both special teams units, scoring 21 points on the power play as well as contributing three short-handed goals. He also played with Pirri on the Canada East squad in the WJAC. Pacan displays good hockey sense in addition to his size. The 19-year-old will attend the University of Vermont next season.
Paul Phillips, D – 5’11 190 lbs – USHL, Cedar Rapids RoughRiders
Selected seventh round, 195th overall
Committed to Denver University
While much of the local attention was focused on the Winnetka, Illinois native John Moore, the Blackhawks plucked another local defenseman with their first pick in the seventh round. Just 17 years old on draft day, Phillips is a native of Darien, Illinois. He has completed two seasons in the USHL. After just three points in 43 games in his first year, Phillips accumulated eight goals and 25 assists in 60 games last season. His 33 points was the second most among RoughRiders defensemen. Phillips is a well-rounded defenseman who plays an intelligent game. He will join Denver University next season.
David Gilbert, C – 6’1 184 lbs – QMJHL, Quebec Remparts
Selected seventh round, 209th overall
Gilbert’s talent may have had him pegged much higher in the draft if not for questions surrounding the young center’s work ethic. He has played about a year and a half in the Quebec league. In his first full junior season Gilbert scored 11 goals and 43 points, eighth best on his team, in 67 games for Patrick Roy’s Remparts squad. Though he is still relatively early in his junior career, Gilbert has already displayed good playmaking skills in a fairly limited role.
Ken McKenna and Jason Menard contributed to this article.