Toews vs. Couture (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
In the lead-up to the NHL Entry Draft, which kicks off on Friday night in Philadelphia, we have been ranking the Top 10 Chicago Blackhawks draft picks of all time. Between constant Patrick Sharp trade rumors and profiling other players that the team could take this year however, we fell behind in our countdown, so in an effort to get back up to speed, we present to you the final four picks in our countdown.
#4: Jonathan Toews
Although he has only been in the league for seven seasons, the 3rd overall pick in the 2006 draft has had a bigger impact on the Blackhawks organization than just about any other player. Not only has he scored 195 goals and dished out 245 assists in 484 career games, but he has also captained the team to two Stanley Cup titles (as the youngest captain in team history, no less) and along with Patrick Kane has given the Hawks their best scoring tandem since Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita roamed the ice.
Perhaps most importantly of all though, Toews represents the culture change that has taken place in the Windy City over the past several seasons. Gone are the days when Bill Wirtz was running the team into the ground, and with talented and humble stars like Toews on the team, Chicago is now a premier destination for players in the league to come to.
#3: Duncan Keith
Taken in the second round of the 2002 draft, Keith has been a player that’s produced everything the Blackhawks could have ever dreamed of. He’s a tremendous offensive weapon, with 370 points in 686 career games, and he’s one of the better defenders in the NHL, winning the Norris Trophy twice as the league’s best defenseman.
Along with Brent Seabrook, Keith has help mold one of the league’s best defensive cores, blending intelligent defensive strategies with the ability to turn plays around with his quick stretch pass ability and solid skating. At only 30 years old, Keith still has several years ahead of him to move up this list a bit more, but his standing as a critical piece to two Stanley Cup runs makes him one of the greatest Hawks picks of all time.
#2: Denis Savard
Few players have captured the imagination of Blackhawks fans the way that Savard, the number three selection in the 1980 draft, did during his tenure, and his jersey number hangs from the rafters of the United Center for that reason.
In two different stints with the club, Savard eclipsed the 30-goal plateau on seven occasions, and he had over 100 points in five seasons at the old Madhouse on Madison. His best season came in the 1987-88 campaign, when he scored 44 goals and picked up a career high 87 assists for the Hawks. His 131 points were also a career high. In the next two seasons, Savard still averaged well over a point per game, and he really came alive during the playoffs in 1989 and 1990, scoring 15 goals and adding 26 assists in 36 Stanley Cup playoff games.
Savard currently serves as an ambassador for the Blackhawks’ organization, and was the first head coach behind the bench when Kane and Toews made their Hawks debuts in 2007.
#1: Steve Larmer
Picking Larmer as the best Blackhawks draft pick ever may be a bit of a surprise to some Hawks fans, but when you consider that he was a sixth round pick in the 1980 draft, his value is pretty apparent. In 1006 NHL games, Larmer had 441 goals and 571 assists, and he eclipsed the 40 goal plateau on five different occasions. He only hit 100 points once (in the 1990-91 season), but his consistent scoring punch and ability to move the puck around the ice with ease were a huge boost to a Hawks team loaded with talented players like Jeremy Roenick and Savard.
The only sad part of Larmer’s career with the Hawks was that he wasn’t able to win the Cup with the team, but he did end up winning a title with the New York Rangers in 1994. In their championship run, he had nine goals and seven assists in 23 games, and he retired the next season.