The Chicago Blackhawks have missed the playoffs in each of the last two seasons, and they're looking to take a big step forward after picking Kirby Dach with the third overall pick in the NHL Draft.
The first round of the draft has wrapped up, with the Boston Bruins drafting John Beecher from the US National Development Team and the Buffalo Sabres selecting defenseman Ryan Johnson with the 31st pick.
Only one draft-day trade was put together, with Arizona and Philadelphia swapping picks in the middle stages of the round.
The NHL Draft will resume Saturday afternoon at noon with rounds two through seven.
A run of of Canadian-born players are flying off the board in the late stages of the first round, as the Tampa Bay Lightning selected forward Nolan Foote from the Kelowna Rockets.
The Carolina Hurricanes followed that up by taking forward Ryan Suzuki with the 28th pick, and the Anaheim Ducks used the 29th pick on Brayden Tracey, a forward out of Moose Jaw in the WHL.
What does the Kirby Dach pick mean for the Blackhawks? Check out our first-blush analysis of the pick here.
While the Blackhawks evaluate their new prospect, the draft has continued with Swedes Tobias Bjornfot and Simon Holmstrom going to the Los Angeles Kings and New York Islanders, respectively, with the 22nd and 23rd picks.
With the 24th pick, the Nashville Predators picked Philip Tomasino, and the Washington Capitals took forward Connor McMichael with the 25th pick in the draft.
The 26th pick, owned by the Calgary Flames, was used on forward Jakob Pelletier, who had 89 points in 65 games with Moncton in the QMJHL last season.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are hoping to bounce back after a disappointing 2018-19 season, and they drafted forward Samuel Poulin out of Sherbrooke.
Poulin scored 29 goals and dished out 47 assists in 67 games last season in the QMJHL.
We have had back-to-back Finns taken in the draft, as the Ottawa Senators drafted Lassi Thompson, a defenseman out of Kelowna, and the Winnipeg Jets drafted Ville Heinola out of the Finnish Hockey League.
The defensive market continues to be active at the draft, as the Dallas Stars snagged Thomas Harley out of Mississauga.
In the OHL last season, Harley had 11 goals and dished out 47 assists in 68 games, and joins a talented group of Stars defensive prospects.
The Vegas Golden Knights have selected forward Peyton Krebs with the 17th overall pick in the draft.
The Kootenay Ice-product was a top-five prospect in some publications, and scored 19 goals and dished out 49 assists in 64 WHL games last season.
Picks are coming in fast and furious in Vancouver, as the Colorado Avalanche use their second pick of the first round to take Alex Newhook, a center out of Canada.
With the Victoria Grizzlies last season, Newhook scored 38 goals and dished out 64 assists in 53 games played.
Prior to that, the Philadelphia Flyers selected defenseman Cam York, who will continue his hockey career at Michigan next season, and the Montreal Canadiens snagged Cole Caufield with the 15th pick.
Drawing comparisons to Alex DeBrincat, the 5-foot-7 Caufield scored a staggering 72 goals last season for Team USA's development squad.
Spencer Knight, a goaltender for the US National Development Team, is the first netminder to go off the board, heading to the Florida Panthers with the 13th overall pick.
He posted a 32-4-1 record and a 2.36 goals against average in his final junior season, and after a season in college he is expected to head to the pro level.
With the 12th pick, the Minnesota Wild selected winger Matthew Boldy. Committed to Boston College, Body scored 33 goals and dished out 48 assists in the National Team Development Program last season.
The Arizona Coyotes swapped picks with the Philadelphia Flyers, sending the 14th pick and a second-round pick to Philly, and used the 11th selection to take Swedish defenseman Victor Soderstrom.
Soderstrom had four goals and three assists last season with Brynas IF in the Swedish Hockey League, and adds even more depth to the Coyotes' blue line prospect corps.
The Anaheim Ducks added one of the fastest forwards in the draft, selecting center Trevor Zegras with the ninth overall pick in the draft.
With the USNTDP team this season, Zegras scored 14 goals and dished out 26 assists in 27 games, playing alongside top-overall pick Jack Hughes for most of the campaign.
The Vancouver Canucks, hosts of the draft, then selected Vasili Podkolzin with the 10th pick. Podkolzin has already announced he will stay with his KHL team in Russia after he scored eight goals and five assists in 26 games.
For the second year in a row, the Edmonton Oilers have gone with a first round defenseman, taking Philip Broberg with the eighth overall pick.
The Swedish defenseman, who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 203 pounds, had two goals and seven assists for AIK last season.
The Buffalo Sabres have made another move to shore up their center position, drafting Dylan Cozens with the seventh overall pick on Friday night.
Cozens, who played with the Lethbridge Hurricanes last season, scored 34 goals and had 50 assists in 68 games with the WHL squad. He also had eight points in seven postseason games.
The Detroit Red Wings are the first team to really stun the Vancouver crowd, taking defenseman Moritz Seider with the sixth overall pick.
In the world championships, Seider scored a pair of goals for the German squad, and with his German Hockey League club, the defenseman scored twice and dished out four assists in 29 games.
Chicago area native Alex Turcotte has been selected by the Los Angeles Kings with the fifth overall pick in the draft.
A University of Wisconsin commit, Turcotte was a star for the US National Development Team, scoring 39 goals and dishing out 57 assists in 53 combined games at the Under-18 level and with the USNTDP's USHL squad.
The Colorado Avalanche have selected defenseman Bowen Byram with the fourth overall pick.
Byram, viewed by just about every expert as the top blue liner in the draft class, scored 26 goals and dished out 45 assists with the Vancouver Giants last season. He is a good puck-handling defenseman who will likely be expected to fire stretch passes ahead to Colorado's talented forwards, and he could really make an impact in his rookie season.
The Blackhawks have kept the third overall pick, selecting forward Kirby Dach, a center with the WHL's Saskatoon Blades.
Dach is one of the draft's best passers, racking up 48 assists in 62 games last season. He also scored 25 goals for good measure with the Blades.
The Blackhawks are now on the clock, as the New York Rangers have taken Kaapo Kakko with the second overall pick in the NHL Draft.
The winger was widely viewed as one of the top two players in the draft, and with good reason, scoring 22 goals and dishing out 16 assists in 45 games in Finland last season.
At the world championships, Kakko scored six goals in 10 games earlier this year.
After plenty of pomp and circumstance, the New Jersey Devils, as expected, selected Jack Hughes with the first overall pick in the NHL Draft.
Hughes, a star for the U.S. National Development Program team, scored 46 goals and dished out 114 assists in 74 combined games between the USHL's US team and the Under-18 team.
There isn’t much drama with the first two picks of the draft, as Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko are expected to go with the selections, but the intrigue of the selection show really starts with the Blackhawks at three. The team could go in any number of directions, and speculation has been rampant over which players G.M. Stan Bowman is targeting.
On the forward front, the Blackhawks have likely looked at the talented centers in the mix, including Trevor Zegras and Dylan Cozens. Kirby Dach, a forward out of Saskatoon in the WHL, has been mentioned as a potential candidate, and the Blackhawks could also target local product Alex Turcotte, who grew up rooting for the team as a youngster.
If the Blackhawks decide to take a defenseman, then they really only have one option at three, as Bowen Byram has emerged as the undisputed top blue liner in this year’s class. The team’s recent acquisition of Olli Maatta from the Pittsburgh Penguins could potentially make that choice a bit more complicated, but with Byram’s skillset the team likely hasn’t ruled him out as an option.
Aside from the question of who to pick, there is also the chance that the Blackhawks could move down in order to recoup more assets. If that’s the case, then players like Vasili Podkolzin, Peyton Krebs, and Arthur Kaliyev could come into play.
The NHL Draft will get underway on Friday night at 7 p.m., and the event will air on NBCSN.
Here is how the first round will shake out:
1 New Jersey Devils
2 New York Rangers
3 Chicago Blackhawks
4 Colorado Avalanche (from Ottawa)
5 Los Angeles Kings
6 Detroit Red Wings
7 Buffalo Sabres
8 Edmonton Oilers
9 Anaheim Ducks
10 Vancouver Canucks
11 Philadelphia Flyers
12 Minnesota Wild
13 Florida Panthers
14 Arizona Coyotes
15 Montreal Canadiens
16 Colorado Avalanche
17 Vegas Golden Knights
18 Dallas Stars
19 Ottawa Senators (from Columbus)
20 Winnipeg Jets (from New York Rangers)
21 Pittsburgh Penguins
22 Los Angeles Kings (from Toronto)
23 New York Islanders
24 Nashville Predators
25 Washington Capitals
26 Calgary Flames
27 Tampa Bay Lightning
28 Carolina Hurricanes
29 Anaheim Ducks (from San Jose, via Buffalo)
30 Boston Bruins
31 Buffalo Sabres (from St. Louis)
The Blackhawks’ next pick will come at number 43 in the second round, which is set to get underway on Saturday from Vancouver.