Chicago, IL — With the 2012 NHL entry draft in the books, it is hard to determine at this point if the Blackhawks draft was a successful one or not yet. What the 2012 NHL entry draft can tell us perhaps is the direction that the Blackhawks will be going in the future.
It is not surprising that the Blackhawks in a defensemen heavy draft selected as many forwards as they did. The Blackhawks took four forwards, two defencemen and 2 goalies in the very late rounds. So what can one glean from this?
By taking the goalie prospects late in the 6th and 7th rounds to me shows they are in no hurry for them to play with the big club. Both of the goalies selected are projects. They will let them have time to develop in college and juniors.
It also tells us that the Hawks are willing to give Corey Crawford the reigns in net, at least for 2012-13 season. Crawford however does need to step up his game with consistency. The Hawks brass seems to believe the Crawford was having a sophomore slump and will bounce back this year.
If he doesn’t Crawford’s status as Chicago’s #1 goalie will probably change. The Blackhawks are not going to let the goalie position determine their fate in capturing another Stanley Cup.
The Blackhawks are a carbon copy of the Detroit Red Wings which is due to the Scotty Bowman influence. They love skilled forwards and place a high value on them. Detroit Red Wings’ championship teams were built on this. Hey if it good enough for Detroit why not Chicago.
The Blackhawks took two forwards that you would have to classify as finesse, skilled forwards in their 1st round pick Finnish sensation Teuvo Taravainen -LW/C. Taravainen is being compared to Patrick Kane with his on ice vision and play making abilities. Scouting reports on this kid say he may have the best hands of every forward in this years draft.
The Hawks also took a finesse forward in the 6th round when they picked Vincent Hinostroza – C a Chicago product. The other two forwards taken Chris Calnan – RW who just happens to be Jeremy Roenick’s nephew. Think Calnan won’t be getting tips from JR?. Then there is Garrett Ross – LW who has already danced with Andrew Shaw. Both players are more of a gritty nature.
Why would the Hawks take so many forwards in a draft year that was filled with so many talented defence prospects? In a year when defence ruled in the NHL with the LA Kings, NJ Devils, NY Rangers & Phoenix Coyotes all strong defensive first teams what does this say?
It says that the Hawks are staying with their philosophies of skilled speedy forwards will continue to win championships in Chicago. The Blackhawks will not be jumping on the defence first band wagon that’s for sure. In a league that usually sees teams copy cat the previous years championship teams style, the Hawks will stay with their skilled offence first style. They will not be plugging up the middle but rather looking to fly through the middle.
There will not be any boring hockey played at the United Center that’s for sure. They have invested in some potentially offensively dynamic players. If these kids meet their projections the fans of the Indianhead jersey should be wowed for years to come. This also doesn’t hurt ticket sales.
But what about defense? You can’t forget about the defense while offense may sell tickets you still need some solid defensive play to get through the NHL playoffs and survive to the Stanley Cup Finals. The Blackhawks took two D-men – Dillon Fournier in the 2nd rd and Travis Brown in the 5th rd, but they will not be ready for a while like the goalies taken they need time for development.
So where does this leave the Hawks? Are they again going to be leaving Corey Crawford or Ray Emery alone on an island? Will Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook be worked to death again in 2012 on Chicago’s blue line?
Maybe the most telling thing to come out of the 2012 NHL entry draft was that Nik Hjalmarsson is indeed in play for trade. So Stan Bowman has put one of his trading chips in play to see if there are any nibblers and believe me there will be. Hjalmarsson is young with Stanley Cup experience which, is invaluable to several teams like Edmonton, Carolina, Toronto & Tampa Bay.
Since defense was are area of weakness for the Hawks why would they get rid of a defenseman you ask? Well for two reasons Hjalmarsson’s salary cap hit is quit high for a 5th or 6th defenseman especially if the Hawks are looking to perhaps go with a more proven commodity.
Could the Hawks be looking to enter into the Ryan Suter sweepstakes? Maybe they think they can get Matt Carle from the Flyers or maybe Jason Garrison from the Panthers. Hmm Stan Bowman was seen at the draft talking to Dale Tallon & was asked by Chicago media what they were talking about and he said draft and trades. It does make you wonder.
If the Hawks were to land Suter or Carle or Garrison it would immediately improve their d core and could be the difference in them seeing another Stanley Cup. With Keith & Seabrook and any of these D men you do not need a stellar goalie especially with all that offensive power up front.
The next two weeks will be interesting for the NHL and the Blackhawks with free agency and so many players in play. If Stan Bowman can improve the defense with a trade along with the signing of Johnny Oduya and the development of Nick Leddy it will certainly raise his stock as a GM. Not to mention it will no doubt thrill Blackhawks’ fans. If Suter were to make his way to Chicago they would practically be planning the parade route down Michigan Ave.
How the 2012 season will end for the Hawks, Bowman can only hope and project expectations. Again this year anything short of a Stanley Cup or at least the Finals will be viewed as a shortfall. As GM he will have plenty to answer for.
If they can however, clutch another Cup at the end of the year it could shift the model from defense first to offense first. It also could set up the 2013 NHL entry draft which is loaded with skilled forwards. The Hawks have no 2nd or 3rd rd picks in that draft due to the Oduya trade. Somehow I have a feeling the Hawks will be recouping those picks. Can you image them passing up on a draft loaded with offensive talent?