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."

Evaluating Blackhawks options after Anton Forsberg is placed on waivers

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AP

Evaluating Blackhawks options after Anton Forsberg is placed on waivers

The Blackhawks have said all along that they don't plan on carrying three goaltenders, but wanted to do so during the three games in four days stretch just in case, with Corey Crawford coming back from a 10-month layoff because of a concussion.

After being encouraged by how Crawford has responded to his return, the Blackhawks placed goaltender Anton Forsberg on waivers Monday morning. Teams have 24 hours to put in a claim for the 25-year-old goaltender and would have to keep him on their NHL roster for 10 games and/or 30 days before he's eligible to go through the waiver process again.

His chances of getting claimed by any of the other 30 teams essentially depends on which teams believe Forsberg would be an immediate upgrade over their current backup — or starter, for that matter — or whether there's an injury to one of the team's two goaltenders that requires a placeholder, like we saw the Carolina Hurricanes do by claiming Curtis McElhinney from the Toronto Maple Leafs after Scott Darling's injury in the preseason.

If Forsberg goes unclaimed, the Blackhawks can assign him to the American Hockey League with the Rockford IceHogs. With Collin Delia and Kevin Lankinen sharing the goaltending duties in Rockford, it's possible Lankinen gets sent to the Indy Fuel in the East Coast Hockey League to get consistent starts under his belt.

A third option, one that isn't very common but we've seen in the past as recently as last October with Maple Leafs goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo, is that Forsberg can be loaned to any AHL team while still being a part of the Blackhawks organization. This would allow the Blackhawks to keep Delia and Lankinen in Rockford while Forsberg gets his starts in the AHL, too.

Or, the Blackhawks could simply trade Forsberg to another NHL team that could stash him in the AHL, as long as he clears waivers. They did it last season with Chris DiDomenico, who cleared waivers as a member of the Ottawa Senators but was then traded to Chicago for Ville Pokka days later. Had DiDomenico been claimed by the Blackhawks, he would have had to stay on the NHL roster as noted above.

Forsberg was 10-16-4 with a 2.97 goals against average and .908 save percentage in 35 appearances last season but has not appeared in a game yet this year. He was acquired as part of the Brandon Saad package for Artemi Panarin in June 2017.

Blackhawks looking for defensive improvement from everyone, not just defensemen

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks looking for defensive improvement from everyone, not just defensemen

The Blackhawks were able to get away with their defensive lapses in the past solely because of Corey Crawford. When he went down with a concussion last December, those issues were magnified because he wasn't there to mask the flaws.

But it's reached the point where they can't rely on their goaltender to bail them out on a nightly basis, which is becoming another trend. Cam Ward allowed six goals to Tampa Bay on Sunday night, but made 49 saves — including 30 in the second period alone. He did everything he could to keep his team withing some sort of reaching distance and without his timely stops, the scoreboard could've looked much worse for the Blackhawks.

Something's got to change. 

When the Blackhawks talk about tightening things up defensively, they're not just putting it all on the defensemen. All five guys on the ice need to do their part and they're not doing it right now.

"I think we're trying to do too much and running around trying to do each other's job," Jonathan Toews said. "Sometimes we just need to simply and finish our checks and support each other."

No team has given up more even-strength high-danger chances through eight games than the Blackhawks at 110. That's 15.77 per 60 minutes. For reference, the New York Islanders finished worst in the league in that category last season and their number was at 12.96.

It didn't help that the Blackhawks spent nearly the entire second period in their own end on Sunday.

"We just couldn’t get it out of our zone, couldn’t get our stick on it, didn’t see pressure, didn’t feel pressure when we had it, were stripped," coach Joel Quenneville said. "Hence, we didn’t advance it. Kept looking like we were going up the ice and there were going to be some odd-man situations and then we’re the ones who were facing it."

That's one way to eliminate those high quality scoring chances, is getting the puck out of their own zone effectively or else it opens the door for Grade-A opportunities because of self-inflicted wounds. And it usually happens at the end of shifts when guys are tired, which often leads to goals.

"We have to learn how to play without the puck better and learn how to keep it," Quenneville said. "Whether it was our execution going up the ice, first pass poor and then we couldn’t change. A lot of things that happened yesterday were there tonight."

The Blackhawks weren't using three games in four nights as an excuse because Tampa Bay was in the same situation. It was an even playing field in that respect.

It's all about execution from everyone involved, forwards and defensemen. And the Blackhawks feel they're correctable issues.

"Of course," Toews said. "We've had some good periods this season so far. The first three, four, five games, everyone was excited and you guys are all talking to us much differently than you are right now. It's just getting back to playing that smart defensive game and playing with effort and letting our offense do the work. We know what's got to improve. It's right there in front of us."