This was Mike Smith’s maiden voyage as General Manager, though he has worked for months prior for the Blackhawks organization in the capacity as advisor in the draft.
Assessing prior draft results showed there was much needed, and Smith started by holding on to his two first rounders and then moving down in the second to add additional picks as the draft went on.
Chicago’s 1st round pick, 10th overall, was center and power forward Mikhail Yakubov, 6’3″ 185-pounder from Barnaul, Russia. He is a creative playmaker who works every shift and whose size/skill ratio projects to any forward position. This big hard driving horse plays a power game and will take the hit to make the play. He has jump in his stride along with puck skills, and nose for the net. He is a good faceoff man with a strong work ethic, always defensively responsible and doing the little things that make good three zone players.
Going into the 2000 entry draft, the Hawks felt he was one of the players that would most likely be taken before pick #10. There were a couple questionable reaches made by teams ahead of the Hawks, so when he was still available, they could not afford to pass him up. Their original plan was to make Pavel Vorobiev their “safe” pick and try and trade the other #11 overall pick for more higher picks. They never even interviewed Yabukov. The unlikely happened, and when he dropped into the Hawk lap, General Manager Mike Smith called timeout and said he was going use both picks for Russian team forwards, no less.