What should the Blackhawks do with the No. 8 overall pick?


What should the Blackhawks do with the No. 8 overall pick?

The Blackhawks can officially start planning for the 2018 NHL Draft after learning they will be picking eighth overall following Saturday's lottery results.

And they have a few options to toy around with, thanks in large part to the additional first-round pick they received from the Nashville Predators in exchange for Ryan Hartman. But that selection won't be determined until the playoffs are over — the deeper they go, the lower it becomes.

So let's focus on the No. 8 selection and what the Blackhawks could do with it, knowing they have that later pick in their back pocket.

Here are four scenarios:

Trade up

Stan Bowman knows this is a crucial draft. This is the highest pick the Blackhawks have had since taking Patrick Kane first overall in 2007, and there's a real opportunity to pick someone who can step into the lineup right away.

With that being said, there's a good chance four defensemen will be off the board by the time the eighth pick rolls around and it's no secret that's a pressing need for the Blackhawks.

Perhaps they'll go in a different direction with Henri Jokiharju and Ian Mitchell in the pipeline, two young blue liners the team has high hopes for, but if that's a position they're targeting and you identify a specific player you're unsure will be there at 8, you trade up to get him.

Would the package be worth it to move up a spot or two? That's where you have to decide whether the pros would outweigh the cons.

Trade back

Last summer, the Blackhawks went into the draft holding the No. 26 overall pick. But based on how it unfolded, they felt comfortable trading back three spots to No. 29, where they still got their guy (Jokiharju) while essentially acquiring a free third-round pick that was used to take Andrei Altybarmakyan.

This is probably not a route the Blackhawks are considering this time around — at least for their eighth overall pick — simply because of their desire to grab an impact-type player that's as close to NHL ready as possible. But it's still worth noting as something they haven't been afraid to do in the past.

Trade it in general

If you're expecting the Blackhawks to land a big fish in the free agent market (John Carlson), you might want to lower those expectations. Bowman has made it clear they plan on investing money in Alex DeBrincat, Vinnie Hinostroza and Nick Schmaltz for the long term.

But if the Blackhawks feel there's somebody out there, say a Top 4 defenseman, with one or two years left on their deal and want to maximize their chances next season, they have the ammo to pull off a trade.

It's a big risk if you're considering trading a Top 10 pick to do it for a player on a short-term contract, but the Blackhawks cannot afford to miss the playoffs for a second straight season. The time is now.

Stay put

This is the most likely path, and the wisest, too. It's still a position where the Blackhawks can draft someone that's advanced in his development and not have to sacrifice prospects or picks to land that type of player.

If the Blackhawks want someone ready to make an instant impact, they might be better off snagging a forward because young defensemen need time to get accustomed to the speed, size and style.

If they're confident in the developments of Jokiharju and Mitchell, and don't mind being patient with a third high-end defenseman prospect in the mix, then there shouldn't be any hesitation on limiting who you select.

At No. 8, position might not better for the Blackhawks. You can never go wrong with snagging the best available player.

"We're optimistic," Bowman told after the lottery. "It's a good draft. We're confident we're going to get a good player at No. 8. It wasn't our year for the lottery, but we'll still get a good player.

"This year especially it's different because you're going to get a guy that's hopefully an elite player in the league. Watching the players, I've had a chance recently to see a number of these guys and there are some special players out there, not just the top couple that get a lot of attention but even the player we'll get at No. 8 should be a special player."

NHL Draft Profile: F Brady Tkachuk

NHL Draft Profile: F Brady Tkachuk

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

Brady Tkachuk

Position: Forward
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 196 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

"I know Tkachuk isn't a center, but Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks) is another player who comes to mind with his combination of size, strength, skill and nastiness. Tkachuk has impressive hand skills and his upside has only begun because I think there's lots of maturity and growth to come. I've seen his speed and skating improve each of the past three years and I think he'll still get stronger and his balance will get better. His man strength will come and it'll be like, 'Oh boy, look out.'"

NHL player comparable: Matthew Tkachuk/Wayne Simmonds

Fit for Blackhawks:

If you're looking for a player that checks all the boxes in this year's draft, it's Tkachuk. And man could the Blackhawks use a player like him.

He's got offensive skill, willingly goes to the greasy areas, can provide net-front presence while playing a top-six role, and perhaps the most important part for the Blackhawks: he's very close to NHL ready. The Blackhawks will be patient with whoever they draft, but there's also some urgency to turn things around in 2018-19.

If they can draft a player like Tkachuk who can potentially jump into the lineup as early as this upcoming season, that would be ideal. Because he's the type of player that can make an impact, not just get by.

NHL Draft Profile: D Quinn Hughes

NHL Draft Profile: D Quinn Hughes

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

Quinn Hughes

Position: Defenseman
Height: 5-foot-10
Weight: 170 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

"He's got the puck skills, is a good skater, and is a guy with some high-end offensive talent. He wants to get right in there and play where it's hard and where you get rewarded. When he gets that puck on his stick, he wants to bury it."

NHL player comparable: Torey Krug/Kris Letang

Fit for Blackhawks:

It's no secret the Blackhawks are looking to restock their pipeline with some high-end defensemen. Henri Jokiharju and Ian Mitchell are on the way. But the former isn't a lock to be a full-time NHLer this season and the latter will continue playing in college for the 2018-19 season.

Hughes, who shined at Michigan and the IIHF World Championship with Team USA, would have the best chance of the three to crack the Blackhawks lineup first. The problem is, he likely won't be available at No. 8, so if Hughes is the guy they're locked in on, they'd need to trade up to grab him. 

If they did that, Hughes would give the Blackhawks a third blue line prospect they can get excited about. He's a left-handed shot, which evens out the balance in the system, and he would become a prime candidate to eventually replace Duncan Keith as the team's No. 1 defenseman.