Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko are expected to be the No. 1 and 2 overall picks in the 2019 NHL Draft. After that is a toss-up. The Blackhawks can go in a number of different directions.
Earlier in the week, we broke down six potential draft candidates for the Blackhawks at No. 3 overall. That's how many options they'll have because there really is no clear-cut player in that spot.
The NHL launched a new podcast series called NHL Draft Class, which features an in-depth look at the top prospects going into the draft. And the experts of Adam Kimelman, Mike Morreale and guest Guillaume Lepage of LNH.com are split on who the Blackhawks could take.
“Let’s look at No. 3 — the Chicago Blackhawks," Kimelman said. "This is where the paths diverge if you’re following our mock drafts on NHL.com. For me, I thought Vasili Podkolzin, the Russian player. Just an elite skill-set. I think he’d be the guy. In talking to scouts, they give him a little bit of an edge over the other guys that are available at that spot. You have to be patient, he’s not going to be able to come over right away but he could be one of those guys, you know, we saw it with Evgeni Kuznetsov, we’ve seen it with other players coming from Russia, that if you just have a little bit of patience they will make it worth your while. I think Podkolzin could be a guy like that.
"Guillame, you went with Dylan Cozens from Lethbridge. For me, that was really kind of splitting fine hairs there. What put Cozens ahead of Podkolzin and Dach there?"
Lepage responds: “The main reason is that Cozens is a center. I was looking at the center lines for the Blackhawks. They have [Jonathan] Toews, but behind, they got Dylan Strome this year. But I think that Cozens would be huge for them at center. They’re stacked with good young defensemen — [Henri] Jokiharju, [Adam] Boqvist, [Nicolas] Beaudin — and I think that if they add Cozens, which is a pretty big forward — 6-3, 180 — he skates really well, he can do anything at high speed and speed is the name of the game now. If they add Cozens, a couple of years down the road, I think the Blackhawks will be really happy with their choice.
"Their center lines will be very complete with Cozens, Strome and Toews — who is doing his thing again. Even if he’s not a young forward anymore but still can produce and he showed it this year. Cozens, for me, because he’s a center, at No. 3."
The Blackhawks have a little more than two months to dig in and do their homework on the top players of the draft. And it'll be interesting to see how they use it because they've always prioritized best available player and not the most NHL ready, which can be tempting as they try to maximize the prime years of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.
As GM Stan Bowman put it: This could be a potential game-changer for next season and beyond.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.