The Hawks Move To The Top Three! So Now What?
It’s the night before the start of the NHL Playoffs and for the second year instead of getting ready for game one, the Chicago Blackhawks are participating in the Draft Lottery. Now if you know me I was expecting this to happen. I lived by two hashtags this year, #LoseforHughes and #FireBowman. Ok to be fair that second one has been my life motto for years now but none the less around December both seemed very realistic. Fast forward to the last few months of the season and the Hawks start to play unbelievable hockey and flirt with a wild card spot. The diehard fan in me was jacked for this but the realistic fan in me knowing the playoffs probably won’t happen was getting worried that #LoseforHughes was just going to be a dream. The last day of the season comes and it is announced the Hawks will have a 2.5% chance at winning this years draft lottery. #LoseforHughes is all but dead.
Fast forward to tonight, the 15 teams not getting ready for the playoffs are in Toronto waiting to see who will win the rights to land Jack Hughes. As I am starting to come to terms with having the 12th overall pick a tweet goes out that will make me slowly lose my mind. It was a leaked graphic showing the hawks are moving to a top three pick. If this was legit it meant #LoseforHughes was back on. My anxiety starts to kick in once they start to bring the draft order envelopes out. It was officially time to see where the Hawks will pick. 15 Montreal, 14 Arizona, 13, Florida. Now it was time to see if that tweet was real or not. The number 12 envelope opens up and never in my life did I ever think I would be happy to see the Wilds logo. The Hawks who only had 2.5% chance at number one and 8.5% chance at top three have moved up at least 9 spots in the draft. Time came for another commercial break which felt like an hour but it was so sweet knowing the hawks had just two teams to beat for that first overall pick. Obviously from the title of this article you know that in the number 3 envelope was that beautiful Indian Head and the Blackhawks will be drafting 3rd overall at this year drafts. Quick question, who did the Hawks get the last time they drafted third overall? Jonathan Toews, ever heard of him?
Now looking at the prospect rankings unless both the Devils and Rangers GMs have a stroke there is no chance we will get to see Hughes or Kakko in a Hawks sweater. So who is the 3rd ranked prospect? That would be 17 year old Vasili Podkolzin, a 6’1 190 ibs Russian right winger. The scouting report on him is that he has a very high hockey IQ but his weakness comes in the form of his strength according to Sam Conentino from Sports Net. Ryan Kennedy from the hockey news has this to say about him "His work ethic, aggression and two-way play are all fantastic traits, but he can also kill you on the scoresheet thanks to his skills and puck protection ability.” So based on these few reports he seems like a great choice. His stats in the MHL aren’t great, he’s averaging 0.66 points per game over there. But he did look extremely good at World Juniors and if anything this shows he can shine on the big stage. However you do have to consider the Russian effect, will he be ready to play overseas right away or will he want to stay back home and develop his game in the K? This will be a huge factor when considering him as your third overall pick.
One thought I did have for this 3rd pick was to not even use it, kick the tires around the league, and see what kind of return we can get for it. The Hawks are a team that showed great potential once they got used to Coach Colliton’s new systems so just imagine what they can do in a full season under him. Also, they are going in to the off season with cap flexibility for the first time in a very long time and are one or two pieces away from being a legit playoff contender again. So drafting the best available player might not be what’s best for the future of this club but there will be teams that could use a solid winger cough Edmonton cough. Maybe you can package this pick with one of your bad contracts that we might not be able to move otherwise.
Personally I would just hold on to the pick take a player that you know will be a game changer within the next 2 years and let him develop a little bit where ever that might be. But at the end of the day this is on Stan Bowman so well see if he is ready to be smart or if I need to bring back #FireBowman. June 21st will be here before we know it so until then enjoy some playoff hockey and know that things are looking up for the Hawks.