Blackhawks 2001 draft evaluation

By Martin Christ

The Chicago Blackhawks selected 13 players in the 2001 draft with additional picks gained from the trades of prominent ex-Blackhawks defensemen Chris Chelios (29), Stephane Quintal (104) and Bryan McCabe (115). With their first choice, they gained a player who has already shown he can play well at the NHL level and may be a franchise cornerstone in Tuomo Ruutu. They chose two goalies with their first four choices. Both have played at the NHL level, but not enough to fill the starter position. In the late round they selected from Europe but failed to come up with a player with an NHL future.

The 13 picks played a total of 192 NHL games for an average of 15 games per pick.

Tuomo Ruutu, C/W — Jokerit, Finland 1st Round, 9th overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL games played: 97

Tuomo Ruutu has the ability to hit, score goals, and agitate opponents, but his most noticeable quality is his boundless enthusiasm for the game. He immediately lived up to his high choice status in 2001-02 with 23 points in 51 games for Jokerit Helsinki and then netted four goals in the 2002 World Junior tournament. During 2002-03 he scored 27 points in only 30 games for HIFK Helsinki and led the World Junior tournament with 10 points. Many experts labeled him the best player in the world not playing in the NHL.

Ruutu joined the Blackhawks in 2003-04 and started slowly in his rookie season. The Hawks stuck with him and he rewarded them with 36 points in the last half of the season. He finished fourth in Hawks’ scoring, third in rookie scoring and was sixth in voting for NHL Rookie of the Year. He was selected to the Finnish 2004 World Cup of Hockey team and scored a dazzling goal in the tournament final.

Since then it has not been as bright for Ruutu. He did not play during the lockout season of 2004-05. In 2005-06 a bad back, then a torn tendon in his ankle, limited Ruutu to only 15 games and two goals. He did come back in the last four games of the NHL season and then joined Finland’s 2006 World Championship team where his scoring numbers were small and his penalty minutes large. The Hawks will give him every chance to be their on-ice leader for the 2006-07 season and have plans to play him at center. He could become a star level player if he gains more goal-scoring confidence and controls his tendency to take untimely penalties.

Adam Munro, G — Erie (OHL) 1st Round, 29th overall
Status: NHL Prospect
NHL games played: 17

The Chicago Blackhawks gained this draft choice from the Detroit Red Wings as part of the Chris Chelios trade. Adam Munro was rated as the fourth goalie by Central Scouting and was the fourth goalie drafted in 2001 making him the highest drafted Hawks’ goalie since Jimmy Waite went eighth overall in the 1987 draft.

The Hawks did not sign Munro at the deadline, however, allowing him to become a free agent. He signed with the ECHL Gwinnett Gladiators, where he played until February of 2004 when the Blackhawks came calling due to a Jocelyn Thibault long-term injury. Munro impressed enough during a stint with the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals to get his first NHL start on March 1, 2004 against the Nashville Predators. Munro blanked Nashville for 50 minutes, eventually gaining a 2-2 tie.

His 2003-04 season with the Hawks saw him post a 1-5-1 record and a 3.67 average. He played 30 games with Norfolk during the lockout year winning 14 games. He was back with Norfolk
to start the 2005-06 season and was called up to the Hawks in January 2006.

Munro made 26 saves and recorded his first career shutout Jan. 26, 2006 versus Calgary, but could not follow it up, losing his next four starts (relieved by Craig Anderson twice in this stretch). As a result, Munro was assigned to Norfolk on March 6.

Munro has exceptional quickness and agility but has lacked consistency from game to game. He will likely see more time in the AHL but could gain an NHL backup position.

Matt Keith, RW — Spokane (WHL) 2nd round, 59th overall
Status: NHL prospect
NHL games played: 22

Matt Keith averaged 30 goals during his last two seasons in the WHL with the Spokane Chiefs and the Red Deer Rebels. In 2003, his last year of junior, he helped Red Deer make the WHL finals. In his first professional year Keith was elevated from the Norfolk Admirals late in February 2004. On March 1, in his fifth NHL game, he scored his first NHL goal with less than two minutes remaining to give the Blackhawks a tie with the Nashville Predators. Coach Brian Sutter was so happy with the big, young Albertan that he hugged Keith on the bench. Keith stayed with the Hawks through the end of the season, averaging 12 minutes per game and scoring a total of two goals and five points in 20 games. He saw some power play time, typically parking himself in front of the opposition goaltender. He played 80 games with Norfolk during the lockout year and improved to 18 goals and 49 points, then continued his progress with 26 goals in 72 games this past season.

Keith is a good corner man and fights for his position well during goalmouth scrambles. He has limited finish but great work ethic and hustle. He should make it as a fourth line energy player during 2006-07 and might move up to the third line the following season if he continues to improve at the same pace.

Craig Anderson, G — Guelph (OHL) 2nd Round, 73rd overall
Status: NHL player
NHL games played: 56

Craig Anderson was originally drafted 77th overall by the Calgary Flames in 1999 but did not sign with the team. Two years later the Blackhawks drafted the local boy, helping him become the second Illinois native to tend the Chicago net (the first local goalie to make it with the Hawks was Bob Janecyk in 1983). Anderson made his first NHL appearance in relief on Nov. 30, 2002 and started his first game the next day. Anderson endured going winless in his first 13 NHL decisions. His first career win (and shutout) did not come until Jan. 22, 2004 in a 7-0 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

He started the 2004-05 season very well with the Norfolk Admirals with a 9-4-1 record but a hip injury ended his season. Anderson out-dueled Mike Leighton for the backup spot (Leighton was traded to Buffalo) at the 2005 training camp. When Nikolai Khabibulin’s injury gave him an opening, Anderson unfortunately lost six straight games and was put on waivers. He was claimed by Boston, then by St. Louis and finally claimed back by Chicago on Feb. 3. After his return to the Hawks, Anderson saw action in 11 games and backstopped them to three wins, and his season did not end there.

Anderson was selected to the USA team for the 2006 World Championships and, despite getting pulled after two periods (four goals on 21 shots) in the quarterfinals against Sweden, he should gain confidence from this international experience.

On May 25, Anderson signed with Lada Togliatti of the Russian League.

Brent MacLellan, D — Rimouski (QMJHL) 4th Round, 104th overall
Status: NHL Bust
NHL games played: 0

This draft choice was gained in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens for Stephane Quintal. Brent MacLellan attended a Minnesota prep school in 1999 where he was influenced and inspired by coach Andy Murray. He gained notice playing his defensive style with the 2000 Memorial Cup winning Rimouski Oceanic. He was invited to the 2003 Canadian World Junior camp but did not make the team. MacLellan spent 2003-04 in junior as an overage player and then joined St. Mary’s University to play Canadian college hockey in his hometown. In 2005, he started working for the Andrews Hockey Growth program in Charlottetown, PEI and is no longer pursuing a pro hockey career.

Vladimir Gusev, D — Khaborovsk (RUS) 4th Round, 115th overall
Status: NHL Bust
NHL games played: 0

This draft choice was gained from the Toronto Maple Leafs as part of
the Bryan McCabe trade. Vladimir Gusev’s progress was stalled by a knee
injury which nearly took away his entire 2002-03 season in Russia. He made the jump to North America the next year, adapting well to the culture. He plays aggressively and shows courage in mixing it up with opponents. Gusev has shown he can be used on the power play but is more noted for his defensive play. He was an important part of the ECHL’s Greenville Grrrowl the past two seasons but has not shown enough overall ability to stick at the AHL level.

Aleksey Zotkin, LW — Magnitogorsk (RUS) 4th Round, 119th overall
Status: NHL Bust
NHL games played: 0

This draft choice (also 186 and 216) was gained in a trade with the San
Jose Sharks for choice 106. Aleksey Zotkin signed with the Chicago Blackhawks on August 21st, 2003 but chose to stay in Russia. In 2003-04 Zotkin scored only one goal in Russian Super League play.

In 2004-05 Magnitorgorsk brought in Patrick Elias, Peter Sykora and Fedor Fedorov from North America and Zotkin had to play in the second division with Amur Khaborovsk. There he scored only three goals in 24 games. He was with Amur again in 2005-06 and improved to 16 goals in 40 games, but he is still deep in the Russian minor leagues.

Tommi Jaminki, LW — Blues (FIN) 5th Round, 142nd overall
Status: NHL Bust
NHL games played: 0

Tommi Jaminki is an abrasive in your face kind of player who first showed his potential at the 2001 Under-18 World Junior tournament where he scored four points in six games. He played 45 games as a 19-year-old in the top Finnish league with Ilves Tampere. He scored only two goals during that 2002-03 season but was expected to vastly improve those numbers. He was with Ilves again for the 2003-04 season posting three goals and six points in 51 games. The 2004-05 season saw him record the same three-goal total in 53 games for Ilves. Jaminki spent the majority of 2005-06 with Hermes Kokkola in the Finnish minor league, playing only five top division games for Lukko Rauma. Jaminki’s robust style is an asset but his inability to provide any offense to complement his hitting game will likely see him spend more time in the Finnish lower leagues though he may get one last chance with Lukko Rauma in the coming season.

Alexander Golovin, LW — Omsk (RUS) 6th Round, 174th overall
Status: NHL Prospect
NHL games played: 0

Golovin made his Russian Super League debut during the 2002-03 season with Sibir Novosibirsk. He received only limited ice time with Russian Super League champion Omsk Avengard in 2003-04, scoring two goals in 26 games. He declined joining the Blackhawks in 2004, stating he did not want to leave Russia to sit on the bench in North America. He has shown steady improvement in top division play, going from four goals in 2004-05 to 11 in 2005-06. In fact his 11 goals and 25 points led Sibir Novosibirsk in scoring. This deceptive, shifty player would fit the new NHL style, and may have the skills to make the Hawks’ roster, but as yet is not inclined to leave his homeland.

Petr Puncochar, D — Karlovy Vary jr. (CZE) 6th Round, 186th overall
Status: NHL Bust
NHL games played: 0

Petr Punchochar’s booming slap shot gained him notoriety in his draft year and he was projected to go as high as the third round. He slid all the way to No. 186 and his slide continued when he did not make the Czech elite league in 2003-04. He was back in the top league in 2004-05 with Dukla Jihlava but put up very modest offensive numbers (1 goals in 51 games) and was criticized by his coach for lack of physical play defensively. He played 49 games with Litvinov Chemopetrol in 2005-06 scoring two goals and six points and it does not look like the NHL will factor in his future.

Teemu Jaaskelainen, D — Ilves jr. (FIN) 7th Round, 205th overall
Status: NHL Bust
NHL games played: 0

Teemu Jaaskelainen has not had a breakthrough season since the 2003 World Junior. He has played five consecutive seasons with Ilves Tampere in the Finnish elite league. A shoulder injury reduced his season to just 22 games with Ilves in 2005-06 and he registered one goal and five points. This large, low scoring defenseman likes the hitting game and is under contract with Ilves until 2008, but he still has plans to play in the NHL one day.

Oleg Minakov, LW — Electrostal (RUS Jr.) 7th Round, 216th overall
Status: NHL Bust
NHL games played: 0

Oleg Minakov attended the Blackhawks’ summer prospect camp in 2004, then returned to Russia to play Vysshaya (minor league) hockey with Amur Khabarovsk, scoring two goals in 29 games for the 2004-05 season. The hulking winger skated for Khimik Voskrensensk in the Russian minor leagues in 2005-06, scoring five goals in 23 games and does not look likely to ever return to the Russian Super League. Oleg Minakov is currently on the roster of Khimik Voskresensk of the Vysshaya league.

Jeff Miles, C — Vermont (ECAC) 9th Round, 268th overall
Status: NHL Bust
NHL games played: 0

Jeff Miles reached a high point when he was the ECHL player of the month during November 2004 while playing for the Reading Royals. Although he was able to score at a point per game pace in the ECHL, he could not catch on in the AHL and was released by both the Milwaukee Admirals and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers during the 2005-06 season. Miles is likely to remain at the ECHL level with the Columbia Inferno for the coming season.

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