Blackhawks

Scouting reports on Top 5 NHL Draft prospects

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AP

Scouting reports on Top 5 NHL Draft prospects

We're less than 24 hours away from the NHL Draft lottery, which will determine the order of the first 15 spots.

For the first time since 2007, the Blackhawks find themselves interested in the results. Stan Bowman will be in Toronto representing the organization in hopes of the balls bouncing favorably.

To get prepared for it all, let's break down the Top 5 prospects going into the draft, which will be held on June 22-23 in Dallas:

1. Rasmus Dahlin, D; Frolunda, SHL

Fallin' for Dahlin. This is the consensus No. 1 overall pick, and the guy teams are praying to land.

The 6-foot-2, 183-pound defenseman is an elite offensive playmaker with the ability to play in a shutdown role, a combination that allows him to potentially change the direction of a franchise on the back end. The main concern is that he's only 18 years old, and it takes longer for defenders to adjust to the league than forwards.

Still, Dahlin is capable of jumping into the NHL right away and making an immediate impact while doing so.

2. Andrei Svechnikov, RW; Barrie Colts, OHL 

In NHL Central Scouting's final rankings, Svechnikov came in as the top North American player because of his ability to do special things on offense, whether it's scoring, stickhandling, protecting the puck, etc. To go along with that, he's one of the smoothest and fastest skaters in this draft, making him incredibly difficult to defend.

His defensive game is a work in progress, but his ability to score in multiple ways and create space for teammates makes him perhaps the top forward in this draft.

3. Filip Zadina, RW; Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL 

The Mooseheads have produced a handful of NHL studs over the years, including Jonathan Drouin, Nikolaj Ehlers, Nico Hischier and Nathan MacKinnon, just to name a few.

Zadina could find himself in that category, too. The 6-foot-1, 192-pound Czech winger is a pure goal scorer and considered to be a sniper. He's not the greatest skater, but he's tough to knock off the puck when he gets it. And he has it a lot.

4. Brady Tkachuk, LW; Boston University, NCAA

Hockey runs in the Tkachuk family, and Brady's got big shoes to fill after his dad Keith had a Hall of Fame career and older brother Matthew is making a name for himself in Calgary.

Brady is a versatile forward capable of playing any kind of style, whether it's sticking his nose into dirty areas or playing more of an open game. His speed is probably his biggest area for improvement, but he makes up for that in many different areas.

Every team is looking for this type of player.

5. Evan Bouchard, D; London (OHL)

This draft class is loaded with high-end defensemen, and we'd consider Bouchard the second-best blue liner in this crop simply because his offensive ability is right up there with Dahlin. And that's what the NHL is about these days, impact players that can skate and create.

Bouchard was the OHL's top-scoring defenseman, compiling 87 points (25 goals, 62 assists) in 67 games for the London Knights. He's a quarterback on the power play and has a rocket for a shot. Think Brent Burns.

NHL Draft Profile: D Adam Boqvist

NHL Draft Profile: D Adam Boqvist

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Adam Boqvist

Position: Defenseman
Height: 5-foot-11
Weight: 168 pounds
Shoots: Right

Scouting report:

"Boqvist is a finesse defenseman who is very skilled, possesses excellent vision and tons of talent. He is fun to watch and full of surprises on the ice. He often plays bigger than his size and skated in his first games with Sweden's Senior National Team in April."

NHL player comparable: Erik Karlsson

Fit for Blackhawks:

The Blackhawks would love to have Karlsson, who is probably being traded out of Ottawa this summer. Every team would love to have him. But that's not realistic for Chicago. So what if they drafted his potential mini me?

Boqvist is electric with the puck and has drawn comparisons to the Swedish defenseman as a best-case scenario.

There are two concerns, though. One is that he may need some time to develop at just 17 years old and his defense a work in progress. The second is that he's sustained head injuries over the course of his young career, which adds a little bit of risk to the equation.

If he can stay healthy and his development isn't rushed, there's major upside here. But are the Blackhawks willing to be patient? We're not so sure.

Should the Blackhawks explore bringing back Artemi Panarin?

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USA TODAY

Should the Blackhawks explore bringing back Artemi Panarin?

Here's an interesting development as we approach the NHL Draft: Artemi Panarin has informed the Blue Jackets that he's not ready to consider an extension "at this time" and because of that, Columbus is testing the market for the Russian winger, according to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet.

Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen responded to the report shortly after in a statement released by the team:

"Artemi is an elite National Hockey League player. Our position has been that we want him to be a Blue Jacket for many years and that has not changed. He has a year left on his contract, so there is plenty of time to work towards that end. Should anything change moving forward, we will address it at that time and any decision we make will be in the best interest of our club.”

Ironically, Panarin was traded to Columbus on the afternoon of last year's draft as part of a blockbuster package that sent Brandon Saad back to Chicago. It shook up the hockey world, and has the potential to do so again.

Panarin is set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2019, but is free to sign an extension with Columbus on July 1. Clearly, that doesn't seem to be in the cards right now and it's why the Blue Jackets have to put out feelers. They can't risk losing him for nothing.

On the flip side, Panarin has every right to test the open market. He has one year left on his contract that carries a $6 million cap hit. He's due for a hefty raise, will be 27 years old next summer — the prime of his hockey career — and will certainly be looking for a long-term deal after accepting a bridge contract with the Blackhawks.

Speaking of whom, should his former team explore bringing him back to Chicago now that he's on the market?

Every general manager should and will do their due diligence and call for an asking price, Stan Bowman included. Those conversations might start with Alex DeBrincat or Nick Schmaltz, and if that's the case, you say thanks but no thanks and move on. 

The Blackhawks have the Nos. 8 and 27 picks in this year's draft as possible ammunition, but the Blue Jackets are ready to take that next step. They were up 2-0 in their first-round series before losing four straight to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals. It's unlikely they'd be looking to center a potential deal around draft picks. 

The only way you even consider it from the Blackhawks perspective is if Panarin is guaranteed to sign a long-term extension at a price you're comfortable with, but that's one of the main reasons why they traded him in the first place. 

To cap it all off, trading for Panarin wouldn't even address the Blackhawks' biggest need and that's a Top 4 defenseman. Those don't grow on trees. The Blackhawks will have the cap space to sign a player like James van Riemsdyk to patch up their top 6. You can't say the same for the free-agent blue line group.

So while it may certainly be fun for Blackhawks fans to come up with possible trade scenarios to get Panarin back in an Indianhead sweater, it just doesn't make great sense for a variety of reasons.