Blackhawks

Blackhawks 2018 NHL Draft capsules: Scouting reports and analysis

Blackhawks 2018 NHL Draft capsules: Scouting reports and analysis

A recap of the Blackhawks' selections in the 2018 NHL Draft, and their scouting reports, including analysis from Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman and VP of amateur scouting Mark Kelley:

Round 1, pick 8: Adam Boqvist, defenseman

Round 1, pick 27: Nicolas Beaudin, defenseman

Round 3, pick 69: Jake Wise, center

— What you need to know: Wise, 18, scored 11 goals and dished out 32 assists in 38 games for the United States National Team Development Program last season. He also scored a goal and added four assists in seven games during the Under-18 World Junior Championship. Wise will play at Boston University next year.

— Scouting report: Wise is 5-foot-10, 194 pounds and is known to be an excellent skater. He's also responsible in his own end, which is a trait the Blackhawks always appreciate in their younger players.

— Player reaction: "I thought the Hawks were probably one of the teams I was going to go to for the longest time. I don’t know why, but I always had a gut feeling. And to go to the Blackhawks, it’s unbelievable. Unbelievable organization and I couldn’t be happier."

— Analysis from Kelley: "He's just a really smart two-way centerman. He had a great start to the season and then he missed some time and it was ironic when he came back, it was the same time Jack Hughes joined the team and all of a sudden they had a No. 1 and No. 2 center and the team really took off."

Round 3, pick 74: Niklas Nordgren, forward

— What you need to know: Nordgren, 18, compiled 42 points (13 goals, 29 assists) in 28 games for Jr. A SM-liiga in the HIFK U20 league, and produced at a point-per-game rate in the playoffs with six goals and four assists in 10 games. He also reigstered 10 points (eight goals, two assists) in seven games for Finland during the Under-18 World Junior Championship. He plans to return to Finland next season.

— Scouting report: Nordgren is an undersized winger (5-foot-9, 170 pounds) but has the ability to score and can play in any situation.

— Player reaction: "Pretty exciting to get [drafted by the] Blackhawks, one of my favorites teams in the NHL."

— Analysis from Kelley: "He has great instincts around the net, he has a really good stick in traffic. I think if you look and track his goals you'll find they're goal scorers goals. He gets in the dirt, he's not afraid and he's just got a really great release."

Round 4, pick 120: Philipp Kurashev, forward

— What you need to know: Kurashev, 18, recorded 60 points (19 goals, 41 assists) in 59 games for the Québec Remparts of the QMJHL, and added one goal and four assists in six postseason contests. He also scored a goal and added two assists in five games with Switzerland during the Under-20 World Junior Championship.

— Scouting report: Kurashev is 6-foot-0, 190 pounds and is known to be a smooth skater who can blow past defenders during odd-man rushes. There are concerns about his effort level, but the package is there and that's what attracted the Blackhawks.

— Analysis from Kelley: "Really smart, skilled centerman but he's also really strong on his skates. We thought he had a really good year this year. We think he's better acclimated, we expect him to have a real good year this year coming back."

Round 5, pick 139: Mikael Hakkarainen, forward

— What you need to know: Hakkarainen, 20, accumulated 46 points (15 goals, 31 assists) in 36 games for the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the USHL last season, and added an assist in three playoff games. He was a member of the Chicago Steel for 16 games in 2016-17, where he recorded four assists. Hakkarainen will play at Providence College for the 2018-19 season.

— Scouting report: Hakkarainen is 6-foot-1, 194 pounds and can be an impact-type player and contribute on special teams.

— Analysis from Kelley: "I think what attracted us to him was, when you went and saw him play, he got on the scoresheet but even if he wasn't on the scoresheet you noticed him play. He played hard. 200-foot."

Round 6, pick 162: Alexis Gravel, goaltender

— What you need to know: Gravel, 18, had a 3.38 goals against average and .890 save percentage in 39 games with Halifax Mooseheads last season, and a 2.70 GAA and .917 save percentage in eight playoff games. 

— Scouting report: Gravel is 6-foot-3, 223 pounds, which immediately stand out because it's the kind of size and big frame the Blackhawks like in their goaltenders. His strengths include his quick glove hand and rebound control.

— Player reaction: "It's amazing. It's probably the best day of my life. I just look down and there's a Chicago Blackhawks logo on the jersey. It feels amazing. It's unreal."

— Analysis from Bowman: "Alexis is a guy we think has a lot of potential. And with goalies you have to be patient with them, they take a little bit longer [to develop]. But he’s got a lot of ability, he’s got the size to be an NHL goalie, and I think that’s part of it. We’re happy that he was there and we were able to get him."

— Analysis from Kelley: "He's going to have a great situation. They're going to host the Memorial Cup next year. We're expecting a peak year out of him. He's been a good goaltender. This year we saw him play some really good games. He's in a good spot. We like the opportunity for him."

Round 7, pick 193: Josiah Slavin, forward

— What you need to know: Slavin, 19, had 42 points (23 goals, 19 assists) in 60 games last season with the Lincoln Stars of the USHL, and two goals and one assist in seven playoff games. He is expected to return to the USHL before going to Colorado College in 2019-20. He is the younger brother of Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin.

— Analysis from Kelley: "We like the project there. We think where he is on the curve, he's gonna play another year and then go to Colorado College. We just like the whole project."

The thought process behind overloading one line for Blackhawks

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The thought process behind overloading one line for Blackhawks

Depth scoring is key in today's NHL. If you can't roll four lines, it will eventually catch up to you over the course of an 82-games season and, if you get there, in the playoffs, where it will certainly be exposed.

But equally important in today's NHL is having one dependable line that can be a difference-maker on a nightly basis. We're seeing it more and more across the league where teams overload one line as a "try and stop us" mentality and it's working.

Colorado's top line of Landeskog-MacKinnon-Rantanen leads all trios with 19 even-strength goals this season. Three other lines are tied for second with 16 (Panarin-Dubois-Atkinson in Columbus, Skinner-Eichel-Pominville in Buffalo and Hyman-Tavares-Marner in Toronto).

Boston’s trio of Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak has controlled a ridiculous 60.1 percent of the even-strength shot attempts over the last three seasons and has a plus-20 goal differential, according to corsica.hockey. Over that same span, Nashville’s first line of Forsberg-Johansen-Arvidsson has an NHL-leading plus-29 goal differential.

All of these teams are seeing the benefits both in the short-term and long-term as it’s translating to overall team success. Rather than playing pick your poison, the Blackhawks are trying to do the same in putting Saad-Toews-Kane together (along with DeBrincat-Anisimov-Schmaltz), hoping to spark some steady offensive production.

"If we play them together, they've got to produce," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "But sometimes when you spread them out, no one produces. By loading them up, it puts some pressure on them, but hopefully they play so well that it doesn't matter who has the puck. They're making plays, they break through anyways, no matter who they're playing against. That's what we ask of them, and so far they're coming through for us."

Patrick Kane leads the Blackhawks with 12 goals. Jonathan Toews is second with 10. Brandon Saad has six (three in his past five games). In putting them on a line together, the goal for them is to continue scoring at a high rate, but doing so on a more consistent basis.

“We’re definitely hurting for offense right now, and that’s from top to bottom, the production has gone down,” Kane said. “You take it upon yourself as a player that’s supposed to score and produce, be able to do that every night. It would be nice to be able to do that more often.”

Hawks Talk Podcast: Are the Blackhawks relying too much on Corey Crawford?

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Hawks Talk Podcast: Are the Blackhawks relying too much on Corey Crawford?

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast Adam Burish joins Pat Boyle to breakdown the Hawks’ recent four-game points streak, Corey Crawford's second star of the week honors and Brandon Saad’s best stretch of hockey since he returned to Chicago.

Burish talks about the criticism that Nick Schmaltz receives, the tweaks to the power play and whether he is impressed with how the team leaders have handled the coaching change.

Burish also shares his thoughts on Joel Quenneville attending Sunday night’s Bears game, Eddie Olczyk’s "One More Shift" and shares a couple off-ice stories about Patrick Kane.

:36 - What have you seen over this four-game points streak?

2:35 - Crow is second star of the week, are the Hawks relying too much on Crawford?

4:00 - Crow: no soft goals and rebound control

5:30 - Problems exiting zone cleanly

8:00 - Art of the hoister

9:40 - Best Saad has looked?

10:45 - Schmaltz inconsistencies

12:30 - New wrinkles on Power Play

16:30 - Sikura call up?

18:00 - Leaders handling coaching change

22:00 - What Q’s been up to

25:00 - Burish Beauty

26:00 - Edzo's One More Shift and Hockey Fight’s Cancer Night

28:30 - Kane’s 21st Birthday and off-ice 88 story

Listen to the full Hawks Talk Podcast right here: