Blackhawks

Blackhawks 2017 NHL Draft capsules: Scouting reports and analysis

Blackhawks 2017 NHL Draft capsules: Scouting reports and analysis

A recap of the Blackhawks' selections in the 2017 NHL Draft, and their scouting reports, including analysis from Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman and VP of amateur scouting Mark Kelley:

Round 1, pick 29: Henri Jokiharju, Finnish defenseman

Round 2, pick 57: Ian Mitchell, defenseman 

— What you need to know: Mitchell, 18, scored eight goals and added 29 assists in 53 regular-season games with the Spruce Grove Saints of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, and also scored a goal and recorded three assists in 10 playoff contests.

— Scouting report: Mitchell is a little undersized (5-foot-11, 165 pounds), but is known to be a smooth skater and puck-mover. He carries a right-handed shot, which GM Stan Bowman said is a "commodity" in the NHL these days.

— Analysis from Bowman: "He's got a high skill set. He's not the biggest guy, but he's got great competitiveness, speed, skating, he's got quick hands. We like that part of it."

Round 3, pick 70: Andrei Altybarmakyan, Russian forward

— What you need to know: Altybarmakyan, 18, had 20 goals and 25 assists in 31 regular-season games with the Serebryanye Lvy St. Petersburg of the Maritime Hockey League. He also tallied nine points in 27 games with SKA-Neva St. Petersburg.

— Scouting report: An offensively skilled player with a sneaky good shot. He's 5-foot-11, 183 pounds with a left-handed shot, and is known to be a playmaker.

— Analysis from Kelley: "We started watching him last year's draft. We didn't watch him hard, but he popped up in a few of the international tournaments and we had reports on him. Then going into this year, his name kept coming up, we spent a lot of time at St. Petersburg to see him, we actually brought him into Chicago to get to know him a little bit. Just the way he plays the game, his personality is contagious. We're really excited about him."

— Analysis from Bowman: "He's a real electrifying-type player. His skill set is, he's got great speed, offensive skill, he's a competitive guy too, he's not afraid to throw some body checks. He plays an up-tempo style. He's maybe a little bit off the radar for some people, but we were very impressed with him. I think he's got a chance to be a real special player."

Round 3, pick 90: Evan Barratt, center

— What you need to know: Barratt, 18, scored 18 goals and added 38 assists in 63 games this past season for USA's national under-18 team, and also registered a goal and five assists in seven games to help USA win the gold medal in the IIHF Under 18 World Championships. He will play for Penn State in 2017-18.

— Scouting report: Barratt's biggest strength is his hockey IQ, and playing hard in all three zones on the ice. He's 5-foot-11, 187 pounds, has a left-handed shot and says he models his game after Derrick Brassard.

— Analysis from Kelley: "Every shift, every practice he plays all out. His teammates love him and his opponents don't."

— Analysis from Bowman: "I think the fans here are really going to like what they see from him. Real competitive. Ultra competitive player. He's got skill too, so I don't want to sell him short in that department, but I think the thing we like the most is the way he battles really hard. It was great to see him, he was pretty emotional getting picked, you can tell he wants it pretty bad and I think that's the one quality about him that we like the most."

Round 4, pick 112: Tim Soderlund, Swedish forward

— What you need to know: Soderlund, 19, scored three goals and added four assists in 39 games last season for Skelleftea of the Swedish Hockey League.

— Scouting report: He's an undersized (5-foot-9, 163 pounds) versatile forward with a left-handed shot who's known for his speed, and isn't afraid to go into the dirty areas.

— Analysis from Kelley: "He's energetic. If you go to the game but I didn't tell you who he was, you'd find him. He plays hard, he plays inside. He's not a big guy, but he attacks."

Round 4, pick 119: Roope Laavainen, Finnish defenseman

— What you need to know: Laavainen, 18, had five goals and 16 assists in 48 games last season for Jokerit's under-20 team.

— Analysis from Kelley: "We thought this year, the strides he made from September through April, he just kept coming and coming. He has good size, another right-handed shot, he skates well, he plays really well with his partner."

Round 5, pick 144: Parker Foo, forward

— What you need to know: Foo, 18, had 34 goals and 32 assists in 60 regular-season games with the Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, and also added 10 goals and 10 assists in 13 playoff contests. He will play for Union College in 2017-18.

— Scouting report: Foo is 6-foot-1, 170 pounds and carries a left-handed shot. He prides himself on being a reliable two-way player and be responsible defensively. 

Round 5, pick 150: Jakub Galvas, Czech defenseman

— What you need to know: Galvas, 18, scored one goal and added five assists in 36 regular-season games with HC Olomouc of the Czech league.

Scouting report: Galvas is a 5-foot-11, 165-pound right-handed shot defenseman who can be effective both on offense and defense, and contribute on the power play, too.

Round 7, pick 215: Josh Ess, defenseman

— What you need to know: Ess, 18, had two goals and 11 assists in 18 regular-season games with Team Southwest in the Upper Midwest High School Elite League before potting eight goals and 20 assists in 23 regular-season games with Lakeville South High, where he also added three goals and two assists in three playoff tilts.

— Additional info: Ess, who's 5-foot-11, 183 pounds, will play college hockey next season at Wisconsin, where he will be coached by Tony Granato — older brother of Blackhawks newly-hired assistant Don.

— Analysis from Kelley: "He has very good instincts and skates really well."

2019 NHL Draft Profile: RW Kaapo Kakko

2019 NHL Draft Profile: RW Kaapo Kakko

From June 10-20, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile one top prospect per day — 11 total — leading up to the 2019 NHL Draft as the Blackhawks prepare to pick third overall.

Kaapo Kakko

Position: Right wing
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 194 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report from The Draft Analyst's Steve Kournianos:

"Multi-tooled winger with size and coordination who incorporates his impressive puck skills with a desirable physical package that consistently exhausts opponents. Blessed with incredibly soft hands and tight-quarter quickness, Kakko is a reliable stickhandler who uses timing plays to either get open or create space for his linemates.”

NHL player comparable: Mikko Rantanen

Fit for Blackhawks:

Alright, let’s get this out of the way with: Kakko isn’t going to be on the board when the Blackhawks pick at No. 3. He’s expected to be taken second overall by the New York Rangers.

But, hypothetically, if he did slip, Kakko is probably one of two players in this draft class who could step onto an NHL roster today and make an immediate impact. He’s that good, and we saw it at the 2019 IIHF World Championship when he scored six goals to lead Finland to a gold medal. 

Kakko would give the Blackhawks a dynamic winger on the right side to go along with Patrick Kane, meaning they wouldn't have to worry about their top-six right wingers for many years to come. You shouldn't draft a winger this high unless he's as close to a sure-fire prospect as they come, and Kakko would qualify.

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Blackhawks mailbag: NHL Draft and how to improve penalty kill

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AP

Blackhawks mailbag: NHL Draft and how to improve penalty kill

Every Friday this offseason, Charlie Roumeliotis will look to answer your Blackhawks and hockey-related questions. Be sure to chime in using the hashtag #HawksMailbag on Twitter for a chance to have your question answered in the next edition. 

Turcotte or Byram? And for the one that you don’t pick up, how do you suggest fill the gap that the player would have? (Top 4 defenseman, future 1C, etc.)

The Blackhawks have exactly one week to decide who they want to take at No. 3 overall. We will save our predictions for the Hawks Talk Podcast on Monday. But let’s play out both scenarios:

If Bowen Byram is the pick, the Blackhawks would be adding a potential No. 1 defenseman to the pipeline and will have spent their last four first-rounders on blue liners (Nicolas Beaudin, Adam Boqvist and Henri Jokiharju). Not drafting a center in that spot would indicate that the Blackhawks are very comfortable with Jonathan Toews and Dylan Strome as their 1-2 punch up the middle for years to come. 

If Alex Turcotte (or any other forward) is the pick, the Blackhawks will almost certainly look to upgrade their defensive group via free agency and explore the trade market. They’re putting their faith into the high-end defensemen prospects mentioned above, but they can’t all be broken in at once — and there also aren’t spots for all of them. The Blackhawks have to bridge the gap somehow.

If the Hawks pick Byram, do you think he steps right into the NHL next year and stays in?

This is an interesting situation. Byram tallied 71 points (26 goals, 45 assists) in 67 games in his first season in the WHL, and set a record by becoming the first defenseman in league history to lead all players playoff scoring. And he did it at age 17. What else would he have to prove there?

Byram isn’t committed to play anywhere for the 2019-20, so the franchise that drafts him will likely have a big say in where that is. Could he step into the NHL right away? Probably. But that would be putting him into an extremely tough spot, and it would take a while for him to actually feel comfortable enough to make a big impact on a nightly basis. The Blackhawks want their young players to thrive, not survive.

One option could be doing something similiar to what the Vancouver Canucks did with Quinn Hughes — the No. 7 overall pick in 2018 — and Colorado Avalanche with Cale Makar — the No. 4 overall pick in 2017 who spent two years in college before coming to the NHL — by letting them play one more year in the NCAA, then bringing them over immediately after their seasons ended for the stretch run and, in Colorado's case, the playoffs. 

How do you think the Hawks will try to improve the penalty kill?

The Blackhawks will be (and have been) looking at everything when it comes to improving a penalty kill that finished tied for the worst percentage in 30 years: scheme, personnel, mentality, etc. There will certainly be an emphasis on that this summer, and they'll likely look to add players via free agency that could shore up that department.

It's unclear how the assistant coaching duties will be divided up, but Tomas Mitell and veteran Marc Crawford add fresh ideas to the table so that can't hurt. And having a full training camp and preseason to get things sorted out will be much easier than having to learn the new concepts on the fly like they did last season.

Jeremy Colliton said on the Hawks Talk Podcast that a major reason why he felt the Blackhawks couldn't get the penalty kill turned around is because there was some indecisiveness, schematically, when it came to the aggressiveness of pressuring the puck. So expect that to be something the Blackhawks put a heavy emphasis on when training camp starts.

"Major factor for us this year is that we were in between a lot," Colliton said. "To me, either go and you go 100 percent and together. Or you don't go at all. And I think we ended up in a lot of situations where we were halfway or we had one guy going or two guys going and then all of a sudden they had just enough time to make a play and then you're exposed in other areas of the ice. It's an adjustment for a lot of our guys to play more aggressive."

Assuming the offseason goes well, predictions for next season?

It’s hard to predict what may happen without seeing the moves the Blackhawks — and other teams in the Western Conference — make or don’t make but there’s no reason to think playoff hockey can’t return to Chicago next season. 

Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews showed they’re still in their prime. Alex DeBrincat has emerged as a 40-goal scorer. Dylan Strome might be a point-per-game player in his first full season with the Blackhawks. Same with Erik Gustafsson from the back end. Special teams should improve, and so should the defense. Most importantly, players know what to expect from Colliton at this point and they'll have all the time in the world to get on the same page.

Now, it can’t be ignored that the Blackhawks found themselves in the playoff hunt till the end of the season because the second wild card spot bar wasn’t very high. Colorado finished scorching hot down the stretch and got in with 90 points, but for a while it looked like 87 would be enough. That won’t happen again next season. The Blackhawks have to take it upon themselves to get in because last season’s race was a fluke, not a trend.

When do the training camps and tournaments begin at Fifth Third Bank (MB Ice Arena) this summer?

The Blackhawks have yet to announce when training camp will begin, but the preseason schedule should be out shortly. And it usually starts a little less than a week before the first game, although this season's schedule could look different with the Blackhawks heading to Berlin on Sept. 29 for an exhibition game and Prague on Oct. 4 for the season opener.

Development camp, however, is already set and that will run from July 15-19 at Fifth Third Arena. It will be the first opportunity to view the Blackhawks' 2019 draft picks, including the No. 3 overall selection.

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