CHISportsNation

With the NHL Trade Deadline only a week away, and the Hawks being sellers for the first time in a while, I’m going to take a look into what we should expect out of the organization in the coming months.

Ville Pokka

The first thing I want to talk about is the recent Ville Pokka trade. Now this is a transaction that somewhat puzzles me. If the team is trying to get younger, and looking towards the future, what’s the point of trading a 23 year old defenseman for a 28 year old forward that only has 27 games of NHL experience?

The only intelligent conclusion I can come to is that the Icehogs want some more experienced players on the roster. Chris Didomenico is a journeyman. He’s played in the AHL and ECHL (both while in the Hawks organization from 2010-2012). He had a couple dominating seasons in Serie A, which is the top league over in Italy. He then went and played in two of the top Swiss League’s and earned a contract with the Ottawa Senators where he made his NHL Debut at the age of 28. It’s a great story, but why Stan?

He’s had a strange 2017-18 season so far; at one point he was waived by the Senators and claimed by the Lightning where played 3 games for their AHL affiliate. Then 9 days later, he was claimed back by the Senators and has been there ever since. I’m not in favor of trading a 23 year old defenseman for a guy that won’t make a difference at the NHL level. But if he helps the growth of some of the younger forwards, this might not have been a terrible trade.

The last thing I’ll say about this trade is that Ville Pokka was the last remains of the Nick Leddy trade. So the Islanders have the puck moving, offensive defenseman in Leddy, and we have a 28 year old forward that will never make an impact at our NHL level…

Reminder: Pokka never played a single regular season game in a Hawks sweater. He was in Rockford for 4 years. Although he did get called up earlier this year, he was never given a chance in a Hawks uniform.

 

Wingels and Bouma

I won’t go on too much about these two because I already covered them a bit in my last Blog. Like I’ve said before, these two guys have been consistent all year and have earned their amount of top-6 ice time. They deserve to be on a contender and contribute to winning a Cup. I would expect nothing less than a 3rd rounder for either of them, or a good prospect. I would be shocked if they were still on the team once the trade deadline passes since they are the only valuable assets that Bowman should move.

 

NHL Entry Draft

Blackhawks Playoff Chances – 0.6%

Blackhawks 1st Overall Pick Chances – 5.8%

The NHL usually keeps each team’s Draft Lottery chances pretty quiet until the end of the regular season. Looking back at previous years percentages, we can expect the Hawks to have a 4%-8% chance of landing a top-3 pick if their record remains constant.

The NHL Draft Lottery is a little more intricate than one would think. I used to think that picks 1 through 15 were all selected in a lottery system. What actually happens is this:

  • Only the top 3 picks are selected through the lottery system.
  • Each team is given a certain amount of chances to get a top-3 pick depending on how they did in the regular season.
  • The remaining 4-15 picks are given out based on the records of the teams that didn’t receive a top-3 pick.

For Example:

Last season, the 3 worst teams in order were Colorado, Vancouver, and Arizona (which was traded to the Rangers). Vegas was given the same odds as the 3rd worst team, so they had the same chance of getting a top-3 pick as the Coyotes. However, each of the top 3 picks was won by a team that had a lesser chance of winning the lottery. So those 3 teams jumped over Colorado, Vancouver, Vegas, and Arizona (NYR). Which in turn, gave Colorado the #4 pick, Vancouver the #5 pick, Vegas the #6 pick, and the Rangers got pick #7. So picks 4-15 were determined by record.

We can expect the Hawks to have no later than the 10th pick if every team stays in the same position at the end of the season.

Top Defensive Prospects

This draft is top heavy with great defenseman prospects. In my opinion, the Hawks should consider taking one early. They do have a few good young defensemen in the system, but a top 10 pick would be essential in replenishing the great D-core that they had a few years ago.

  • Rasmus Dahlin (ranked #1 overall)

If the Hawks were lucky enough to land the #1 pick in this year’s draft, the no-doubt #1 overall pick will be Rasmus Dahlin. Dahlin is a 6’2” Swedish, 17 year old, left-handed defenseman. He’s been ranked #1 across all major scouting boards for the past few months.

“Dahlin is a smart two-way defenseman who can play in any situation. He is a terrific skater and stick handler who can rush the puck, or join the attack in a hurry. Impressive agility makes him a good one-on-one defender. He has fine passing ability, and although not a big-time bomber, he has an accurate shot from the point.” (Erik K. Piri)

Dahlin had a great World Junior Classic playing for Team Sweden and leading them to a Silver Medal. He’s drawn many comparisons to Erik Karlsson, to which Karlsson has replied, “He’s much better than I was at that age.” Like I said, he’s a no-doubter to go first overall.

  • Adam Boqvist (ranked #5 overall)

Boqvist is another young Swedish defenseman that will most likely be a top-5 pick. Boqvist, like Dahlin, is currently only 17 years old, and has spent some time in the top-tier Swedish Hockey League. Standing at only 5’11” and 170lbs. he may be small in stature, but he has the offensive talent unlike any young defensemen.

“A dynamic offensive defenseman that can carry plays with the puck on his stick. A highly mobile and nimble skater that moves with fluidity, balance, and confidence. Utilizes an active stick and creates turnovers frequently. Could be more proactive in his own end, but has shown progression in understanding lanes and reading unfolding plays; most of his best defensive work comes through the neutral zone, as there is a lot less time and space to work with, and it is in those moments that Boqvist shines. Offensively, Boqvist is electric; he has the toolbox of a top line forward. Slick puckhandling ability paired with excellent vision and positional awareness makes him a dangerous threat every time he is on the ice.” (Curtis Joe)

Boqvist and Dahlin are 2 of the most offensively talented defensemen that we’ve seen in the past few years. The way that the NHL is changing into more of an offensive, speed, and skill minded league, these 2 should fit right in.

  • Quinn Hughes (ranked #6 overall)

Now if you follow hockey pretty well, you may have heard of Quinn’s younger brother Jack Hughes. Jack is a potential top pick in the 2019 NHL Draft and is a gifted forward. As for Quinn, he’s a similar player, but in the defensive role. Like Boqvist and Dahlin, Hughes is also an offensive minded defenseman. He is only 5’10” and 170lbs. but he’s a very aggressive defenseman. The main difference between Hughes and Boqvist is that we have yet to see how well Hughes plays against men that are older and stronger than him.

He is currently a freshman at the University of Michigan, and is having a pretty nice season with 3 goals and 16 assists through 29 games.

  • Evan Bouchard (ranked #8 overall)

Bouchard is a 6’2” 190lb two-way defenseman that is very talented on both ends of the ice. He is currently in his 3rd season with the London Knights in the OHL, and has 71 points in 55 games so far. He’s leading all OHL defensemen in points, and assists, and has the 2nd most goals for defenseman with 20. He’s 2nd out of all OHL skaters in shots on goal (243), which means that he is not afraid to shoot the puck, and he’s also very good at getting shots through. That’s something that would benefit the Hawks greatly!

I think he’s the best defender of these few players that I name. He’s “Defensively active, cutting off lanes and always staying in excellent positioning. Reads cues well in all three zones and seems to stay a step ahead. All-in-all, a well-rounded defender with great hockey sense and work ethic.” (Curtis Joe, 2017)

The only red flag I see out of Bouchard, is the fact that he’s all over the scouting board. Some people have him ranked as high as #7, and others have him at #15.

  • Noah Dobson (ranked #9 overall)

Like I said, defensive heavy top-10 in this year’s draft.

Noah Dobson is a 6’3” 190lb right-shooting defenseman. He plays a similar game as Bouchard. He’s a bigger d-man that isn’t afraid to shoot the puck and can move it around very well. He is currently playing in the QMJHL and is 2nd among defensemen in points and shots on goal. With 57 points in 56 games and 226 shots on goal, it’s obvious why he can be compared to Bouchard.

The only knock on Dobson is his speed. For the league and players he plays against right now, he’s fast enough. But as he gets stronger, and plays against tougher competition, he needs to continue to get faster.

If the Blackhawks don’t fall in to one of the top 3 picks, I think Bouchard or Dobson should be their 1st round pick. Both are in the CHL and can play a few games in Chicago before being sent back to their respective leagues. And both of them have NHL size and skill. To say they are both NHL ready is probably a stretch, but there’s no doubt that after a training camp or 2 with the Hawks, each of them could be a top-6 defenseman on the team.

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