The NHL Draft is set to start on Tuesday night, and the Chicago Blackhawks will have a lot of important decisions to make as they look to restock their prospect pipeline.
The Blackhawks, who own the 17th overall pick in the draft this year, are expecting to see multiple top prospects make the jump to the NHL next season, with Nicolas Beaudin and Ian Mitchell both expected to compete for roster spots out of training camp.
The Blackhawks could conceivably go in any direction with their selection, with needs at forward (especially on the wings) and at goaltender likely sitting atop the wish list for Stan Bowman and company as the league moves to a virtual realm for its draft.
With that in mind, we have identified 12 players who could potentially be selected by the Blackhawks with the number 17 pick.
Rodion Amirov – Left Wing, Toros Neftekamsk (VHL)
Amirov has begun the season with the KHL’s Salavat Yulaev Ufa, and he already has three goals and two assists in Russia’s top league.
Largely ranked between 15th and 20th among prospect experts this year, Amirov has turned heads with his offensive ability, along with his quickness and ability to enter the zone in a wide variety of ways, a key skill in today’s NHL, according to Elite Prospects.
Yaroslav Askarov – Goaltender, SKA St. Petersburg (AHL)
Billed as the top goaltender in this year’s draft class, Askarov is going to draw a ton of interest, so the Blackhawks would likely have to trade up in the first round if they wanted to acquire the 6-foot-4 Russian-born netminder.
Askarov appeared in five games last season for the Russian Under-20 squad in the World Junior Championships, with a 2.71 goals against average in those contests.
Mavrik Bourque – Center, Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)
Scouting reports on Bourque vary greatly in terms of where they think he’ll be drafted, but there is one thing for sure: he is a dynamic offensive player, able to do a great job of protecting the puck and finding weak spots in an opposing defense.
Bourque racked up 29 goals and had 42 assists last season for the Cataractes, and has an assist in two games so far this season.
Ridly Greig – Left Wing, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
Greig has been touted as a talented two-way player who employs some serious physicality in his game despite only standing 5-foot-11.
He posted a 26 goal season last year with the Wheat Kings, with 34 assists to his credit in 56 contests.
Kaiden Guhle – Defenseman, Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)
Highlight videos tell a fascinating story about Guhle, as he is adept at moving quickly along the blue line to stifle rushes and skilled at jumping into the rush if necessary when heading down to the offensive zone.
Guhle scored 11 goals and had 29 assists for the Raiders last season, and if the Blackhawks decide to add to their extensive stockpile of defensive prospects, he is definitely a player worth keeping an eye on.
Dylan Holloway – Forward, University of Wisconsin
At 6-foot-1 and 203 pounds, Holloway uses every bit of his size to his advantage, back-checking effectively and muscling other players off the puck in a way that’s reminiscent of film of Kirby Dach before he made the jump to the NHL.
In his first season with the Badgers, Holloway had eight goals and nine assists last season, and showed some serious development in his game.
Seth Jarvis – Right Wing, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
A dynamic scorer, Jarvis racked up 42 goals and had 56 assists last season in the WHL. He’s an offensive-juggernaut on the ice, and the Blackhawks could certainly use more players like him in their system after several years of drafting and signing defensemen.
“His explosiveness, puck skill, finishing ability, tenaciousness and high IQ make him a potential impact first line winger and the type of forward who could find himself near the top of scoring races,” according to McKeen’s Hockey.
Hendrix Lapierre – Center, Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL)
Lapierre’s speed and athleticism jump out immediately when you watch videos of his games in the Quebec league. He already has three goals and two assists in two games so far this season, and averaged nearly a point per game in his first two seasons with the Sagueneens.
It is certainly fair to question whether he will be on the board when the Blackhawks pick in the first round, but if he is, he could be an excellent addition to the team’s forward group.
Dawson Mercer – Right Wing, Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL)
Lapierre’s teammate is a prolific scorer in his own right, scoring 24 goals and dishing out 36 assists in 44 combined games between the Sagueneens and Voltigeurs last season.
According to Elite Prospects, he has a “wide array of false signals to trick defenders out of space,” using his shiftiness and ice vision to create open lanes to skate through.
Jacob Perreault – Right Wing, Sarnia Sting (OHL)
A product of the Chicago Mission, Perreault played his junior league hockey with the OHL’s Sarnia Sting, with 39 goals and 31 assists to his credit in 57 games last season for the squad.
Scouts have lauded Perreault for having one of the best shots in the entire draft, giving whichever teams drafts him a potential goal-scoring sensation in the next few years.
Braden Schneider – Defenseman, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
A big hitter with a nasty streak, Schneider is also an excellent puck mover, with 35 assists in 60 games with the Wheat Kings last season. He also scored seven goals for good measures, but he also piled up 42 penalty minutes in 60 games, so his physicality can come with a price at times.
That being said, Schneider represents something the Blackhawks don’t have much of in their system: a big-bodied defenseman that can throw some serious hits in the open ice, and he could be a very attractive player to the Blackhawks if he’s available at 17.
McKeen’s Hockey called him a “minute munching number three defender” in waiting, ranking him neck and neck with Guhle in its defensive rankings.
Connor Zary – Center, Kamloops Blazers (WHL)
Zary has a really nice shot, and he used it to full advantage last season for the Blazers as he scored 38 goals and dished out 48 assists last season.
He is also a really strong player behind the net, making quick moves to the front for scoring chances or to pass the puck to moving forwards for quick one-timer opportunities. His passing has good touch, and he’s able to hit saucer passes with ease.
“Zary has fantastic puck skills, controls the puck very well and can dangle at speed,” McKeen’s Hockey says in its draft guide. “His hand-eye coordination also helps him create and finish scoring chances.”