As many expected, the Hawks will remain near their original place in the draft order and pick 8th in the upcoming NHL entry draft. There are about four to five names that should be on the Hawks’ radar going into this draft. With the likes of Rasmus Dahlin, Filip Zadina, Andrei Svechnikov and Brady Tkachuk likely gone when the 8th pick rolls around, the Hawks should focus on the next wave of talent in the draft. After watching film on those players, the following players are not only possible selections, but many of them make a lot of sense for Chicago.
Evan Bouchard, D, London (OHL)
Bouchard is widely considered by many in the hockey world to be the best available defenseman in this year’s draft. The big right-handed blue liner stands 6’2” and weighs about 190-195lbs. He has great size for a defenseman, let alone an 18 year-old, and provides a skill set that is desperately needed by the Hawks. Bouchard has the potential to become a shutdown defenseman and the ability to be an effective power play quarterback. Hawks fans should recognize that he would fill TWO major needs for the Hawks. It is unlikely Bouchard slips to eight, but if he does, he would be a dream come true for Chicago.
Quintin Hughes, D, Michigan (B1G)
The 5’10” defensemen out of the University of Michigan might lack the size that Bouchard possesses, but he makes up for it with his puck handling abilities. Hughes has incredible speed with the puck, and great composure when under pressure. He doesn’t panic and can usually skate his way out of a jam. Although he won’t be able to do this at the NHL level all the time, he still has the uncanny ability to be a very effective offensive-defenseman and a top 4 blueliner for years to come. He reminds me of a Brian Campbell-type with the puck, not only because he’s a lefty, but also because his ability to carry the puck into the offensive zone with speed and precision.
Noah Dobson, D, Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL)
Dobson is just learning how to tap into his offensive potential. He finally reached the point-per-game measure this past season in the QMJHL. He’s a big body who is a bit raw, but could turn out to be a solid defensive-defenseman for one of the top 10 teams. Although projected by most to go around number ten, he could be taken higher by a team that really falls in love with his size (6’3”).
Adam Boqvist, D, Brynas (SWE)
Boqvist is going to be the youngest player in this draft preview, with not turning 18 until August. He is arguably the biggest wild card too. Being considered a top 5 talent by most, he figures to be a quality top 4 NHL defenseman for many years. He is very similar to Hughes in that he’s a solid power play quarterback, as well as a fond lover of carrying the puck. He has similar stature to Hughes as well. The smaller right handed defenseman has also drawn comparisons to Erik Karlsson (similar to Dahlin) and he could arguably be the next great Swedish defenseman along with fellow draftee and countryman, Rasmus Dahlin. He will likely be gone at number 8, but could slip due to his size.
Oliver Wahlstrom, RW, USA U-18
Although the Hawks have a desperate need for young defenseman, there is a decent chance that the four players mentioned in this article will be gone at #8. If that’s the case, Wahlstrom is still a quality pick for the Hawks. He’s a right-handed winger who possesses a very strong shot and is described as a natural goal scorer, something the Hawks need. He has good size, 6’1”, great energy on the ice and the ability to be a dynamic force. His defensive game can still improve a bit, but he is willing to step up on opposing defensemen at the blue line. He could turn out to be a great pick and add valuable scoring depth to the Hawks lineup. He is committed to play at Harvard next year.
I believe the Hawks will get a player who can be very impactful for the franchise in the long term. Ideal picks, based on projected draft spot and talent, would be Hughes and Bouchard. It’s likely that Boqvist is gone by the time the Hawks are on the clock and I’m not personally sold on Dobson. Wahlstrom would be the best pick if all the defensemen are gone. In the end, the Hawks should get a player who will help address the team’s needs. Whatever they don’t get in the draft, they can target heavily in free agency come July 1st.
Who do you think the Hawks should take? Tell us what you think! Thanks for reading!
Photo: Rena Laverty via Becky Olson/Red Line Editorial, Inc.