Blackhawks 2006 draft preview

By Jonathan Litterine

Blackhawks Top 10 Prospects

1.Cam Barker, D
2.Dave Bolland, C
3.Jack Skille, RW
4.Pavel Vorobiev, RW
5.Corey Crawford, G
6.Danny Richmond, D
7.Brandon Bochenski, LW
8.Michal Barinka, D
9.Mike Blunden, RW
10.Dan Bertram, RW

The Chicago Blackhawks are very balanced with solid prospects on both defense and forward, and a future No. 1 goaltender in the system. They have quite a few players who are NHL-ready and overall have one of the top groups of prospects in the entire league.

Team Needs

Despite having solid players at all positions, Chicago can improve in a few areas in the draft. Brandon Bochenski, acquired through a trade at the deadline, is really the only highly regarded left winger in the system. There are many solid defensive prospects in the Blackhawks system, yet they still lack a true physical stay at home defenseman. They also could use additional goalie prospects behind Corey Crawford.

Organizational Strengths

The Blackhawks have more than enough solid passing and offensive defensemen in the system, lead by Cam Barker and Danny Richmond. All offensive positions are filled with snipers like Bochenski, gritty players like Colin Fraser and two-way forwards such as Jack Skille. The balanced depth of the Chicago system is also a great strength.

Organizational Weaknesses

The lack of depth in goal is a big concern for Chicago. Corey Crawford is looked at as a future starter, but beyond him there isn’t much promise at the position. Should he fail in potential, Chicago would need to scramble for a replacement. The Blackhawks have numerous guys who can score, but Bochenski is the only player you would probably call a real sniper. Getting another player whose biggest strength is putting the puck in the net would be a good move.

Draft Tendencies

Since 2000, the Blackhawks have spread out their top picks between both Europeans and North Americans. From 2000 to 2002, four of the five first round picks of Chicago were European players, including forwards Pavel Vorobiev, Mikhail Yakubov and Tuomo Ruutu, along with defenseman Anton Babchuk. The North American was goaltender Adam Munro who was taken 29th overall in 2001. From 2003 to the present, they have used each first round pick on a North American player. They include a pair of defenseman in Brent Seabrook and Barker along with top 2005 selection forward Skille.

In the past three entry drafts, 12 of 39 selections have been European, or 31 percent. In 2000 and 2001 both of the Blackhawks top picks were forwards. Then from 2002 to 2004 the top three selections were defensemen. In 2005 the ‘Hawks went back to a forward when they selected Skille. Chicago hasn’t taken a goalie with their first pick since Jimmy Waite was taken eight overall back in 1987 (Munro was the team’s second pick).

In the most recent draft in 2005, the Blackhawks had 12 selections and spread them out between eight forwards, three defensemen and one goalie. The goaltender was the University of Vermont’s Joe Fallon who was taken in round six.

The Blackhawks have 10 selections in the 2006 Draft, the first of which is the third overall pick. Since the only top rated defensive prospect Erik Johnson should be gone by then, expect the Blackhawks to add a forward to their core of prospects. Players such as Niklas Backstrom, Phil Kessel, Jonathan Toews or Jordan Staal are all possibilities. Chicago has two picks in round two and four picks in round four. They do not have a third round selection. Seven of the 10 draft picks for the Blackhawks will be made in the first four rounds. With so many selections early on, expect Chicago to upgrade nearly every aspect of their prospect pool in some way or another.

Hockey’s Future’s staff mock draft result: Jonathan Toews.

Copyright 2006 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.