The Blackhawks came away from the 2007 draft with only one regular player, but they made that one count by making Patrick Kane the first overall pick. He has since won a Calder Trophy, earned three All-Star nods, and helped lead Chicago to its first cup since 1961.
Only two of the players from the class are still with the organization despite Chicago holding five picks in the first three rounds. Despite the high ceilings for the second round picks Billy Sweatt and Akim Aliu, they were not long for the organization and are now with new clubs. Neither of the third round picks, Maxime Tanguay and Josh Unice, can even be called NHL prospects anymore. Fifth-round defenseman Joe Lavin is the only player besides Kane that is still part of the Blackhawks organization.
In all, there have been 371 NHL games played among the seven picks from Chicago's 2007 draft class under former-GM Dale Tallon. It may come as a surprise that Kane has only played 369 of them.
Chicago did not miss with Patrick Kane as the first overall pick of the 2007 draft. His electric offensive skills have translated well the NHL despite his 5'11 frame and he has been a key piece of the Blackhawks' resurgence.
Kane debuted immediately in the 2007-08 season and went on to win the Calder with 72 points in 82 games. Just two seasons later, he was lifting the Stanley Cup. He ranked one point behind Conn Smyth winner Jonathan Toews with 28 points in 22 playoff games.
He scored a pair of memorable goals during the team's cup run, including the cup-clinching goal from a sharp angle to finish off the Philadelphia Flyers. Almost equally important was the game-tying shorthanded goal with 13 seconds left in regulation that saved the 'Hawks from going down 3-2 in the Nashville series.
This year, Kane ranks third on the Blackhawks with 42 points in 51 games. He will remain a core player in Chicago and one of the Blackhawks' biggest offensive threats anytime he is on the ice.
Billy Sweatt, LW, Colorado College (WCHA) – 2nd round, 38th overall
Status: NHL prospect (VAN)
NHL Games Played: 2
Long an intriguing offensive prospect in the Chicago system, the club was unable to come to terms with Sweatt on a pro deal after he finished his career at Colorado College. His rights were first traded to Toronto along with Kris Versteeg in the trade that netted Chicago forwards Viktor Stalberg, Philippe Paradis, and Chris DiDomenico. Toronto was unable to negotiate a deal with Sweatt, either, and he eventually signed on as a free agent with the Vancouver Canucks.
Sweatt's excellent skating ability and blazing speed were the tools that made him so noticeable, but he has struggled to develop the rest of his game to compliment them. He scored 19 goals and 46 points in 80 games as a rookie in Manitoba in 2010-11, ranking second on the team in both categories.
In 2011-12 with Vancouver's new AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves, Sweatt is a little farther down the score sheet with 10 goals and 20 points in 39 games. He was called up to the Canucks for two games, skating in his NHL debut on December 8th in Montreal. With such great foot speed, Sweatt will remain in the mix for Vancouver but may not be an ideal fit in the bottom six and carries a hefty $1.2 million cap hit for the cap-strapped Canucks.
Akim Aliu was another eagerly-anticipated prospect in the Chicago system thanks to a rare combination of size, skill, and the ability to play with an edge. He was signed by the 'Hawks to an entry-level contract after a tumultuous OHL career with Sudbury and London, skating in 48 AHL games as a rookie and 13 in the ECHL with Toledo in the 2009-10 season.
He was included in the trade that sent Dustin Byufglien to the organization formerly known as the Atlanta Thrashers during the summer of 2010 and again saw time in the AHL and ECHL last season. Coming into 2011-12, the final year of his entry-level contract, Aliu was assigned to the AHL out of Winnipeg's camp but did not play. He later skated 10 games with ECHL Colorado before he was loaned to EC Red Bull Salzburg for an in-season European tournament.
Aliu was recently acquired by the Calgary Flames, though the move was more of a formality than anything, as he had already been playing with their AHL affiliate in Abbotsford, registering five points through 13 games.
The younger brother of Calgary Flames winger Alex, Maxime Tanguay was drafted out of the QMJHL and signed an AHL deal with Rockford after his fifth season at the junior level. He spent a majority of his first pro season in ECHL Toledo, where he had a prolific rookie season with 25 goals and 69 points in 66 games and earned ECHL All-Rookie team honors.
Tanguay bounced around the ECHL again in his second season, signed first by Elmira and soon traded to Alaska before he played a regular season game for the Jackals. Alaska traded the forward to Utah after 14 points in 25 games and Tanguay eventually signed back on with Toledo to finish the season.
This season, Tanguay is skating in the Quebec pro level North American Hockey League with Saint-Georges Cool-FM, where he has scored eight goals and 20 point in 15 games.
Josh Unice, G, USA U-18 (USDP) – 3rd round, 86th overall
NHL Games Played: 0
A goaltending prospect from the US national team program, Josh Unice had a breakout OHL season in 2007-08. He backstopped the loaded Kitchener Rangers team with a 30-6-1 regular season record and carried the load in the playoffs and Memorial Cup after the Rangers newly-acquired goaltender Steve Mason went down with a knee injury. Kitchener captured the OHL championship even though they already had the automatic bid as the host team, but Unice and the Rangers came up short in the Memorial Cup title game against Spokane.
Unice took a backseat to veteran Parker Van Buskirk in the Kitchener crease in 2008-09 and was eventually traded to Windsor. He was named to the Team USA for the 2009 WJC but made only one appearance behind Thomas McCollum (DET), giving up two goals in an overtime win in the fifth place game. The goaltender was never able to rediscover his same success in Windsor and eventually moved on to the CIS level midway through the 2009-10 season to the University of Western Ontario, where he is now in his third season.
Joe Lavin, D, USA U-18 (USDP) – 5th round, 126th overall
Status: NHL prospect
NHL Games Played: 0
Joe Lavin is the only 2007 pick other than Kane that still remains with the Blackhawks organization. He is making his pro debut this season after a college career that included stints at Providence College and the University of Notre Dame. Lavin's senior season at Notre Dame included the captaincy and a trip to the Frozen Four, earning him an entry-level contract from Chicago.
The defenseman's sound positioning and steady play in his own zone have been welcome additions to a young blue line in Rockford this year. At 6'2 and 197 pounds, he can hold his own in the physical play as well.
Lavin could potentially develop into a third-pairing defenseman in the NHL after he gets some more pro games under his belt. He is still battling for playing time in Rockford at this point and there are plenty of prospects ahead of him on the depth chart.
Richard Greenop, C, Windsor Spitfires (OHL) – 6th round, 156th overall
Status: Bust (TOR)
NHL Games Played: 0
Chicago took a flyer on enforcer Richard Greenop late in the draft, but did not end up signing him to a pro contract after his career in Windsor ended. He was scooped up by Brian Burke in Toronto and signed to entry-level contract in 2009.
Greenop skated in 42 AHL games with the Marlies in his rookie pro season with five points and 136 penalty minutes. The bruiser was limited by a concussion last season to 30 total games between the ECHL and AHL and has yet to skate in a game this season as he continues to deal with that injury.