The Chicago Blackhawks came into Saturday’s second round of the NHL Draft with nine selections, and they went about addressing some glaring holes in their prospect system as they emphasized speed and defense.
With their second round pick, the Blackhawks took right-handed defenseman Ian Mitchell of the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints. The Denver-commit is a tremendous puck mover, as he racked up 29 assists and eight goals for the Saints in his third season with the team last year.
The Blackhawks followed up that pick with two more selections in the third round, and with the first pick they took forward Andrei Altybarmakyan out of Russia. In 31 games in the MHL last season, he scored 20 goals and notched 25 assists, and he also racked up 77 penalty minutes as he established a reputation as a pesky forward with offensive upside.
With their second pick in the third round, the Blackhawks took winger Evan Barratt out of the U.S. National Team Development Program. He is a strong two-way player that likes getting the puck to the net, and his ability to use his size to its full effect will certainly be something to keep an eye on in the future.
“I always make it a point to skate to the net, because that’s where most goals get scored,” he told The Athletic Chicago back in January. “Getting into the dirty areas and fighting for pucks is how I define my game, and it’s where I’m successful at.”
In the fourth round, the Blackhawks swapped picks with the Vancouver Canucks and moved up to take Swedish forward Tim Soderlund. Soderlund had a decent season in the Swedish Hockey League last year, with three goals and four assists to his credit.
A few picks later, the Blackhawks got to select again, and they stayed in Scandinavia as they Roope Laavainen, a defenseman from Finland. Laavainen, the second Finnish defenseman taken by the Blackhawks after they also selected Henri Jokiharju in the first round, played for Jokerit last season, scoring five goals and dishing out 16 assists in 48 games.
Edmonton-product Parker Foo was the Blackhawks’ first pick of the fifth round. Playing for the AJHL’s Brooks Bandits, Foo scored 34 goals and notched 32 assists in 60 games last season, and he is committed to playing at Union College this fall.
With their second pick in the fifth round, the Blackhawks snagged Czech-born defenseman Jakub Galvas. Galvas, who played in several leagues last season, has a bit of offensive skill, scoring two goals and racking up seven assists in 17 games as a member of the Czech under-18 team on the international level a season ago.