VANCOUVER – It wasn’t supposed to have this much drama since the team didn’t finish that far out of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
But thanks to a few lucky ping-pong balls, this year’s draft carries a bit more weight than initially anticipated for Stan Bowman and the Blackhawks.
During the NHL’s lottery back in May, the team made the unexpected jump from the 12th selection all the way up to the third pick. Instead of having a player that could benefit the franchise in a few years, the Blackhawks were in a position to acquire a player that could make an impact during the 2019-2020 season.
It makes for a greater opportunity for Bowman on Friday when the two-day NHL Draft begins in Vancouver. Yet it does add a little more pressure considering the rarity of this high of a selection for the franchise, forcing Bowman to promote a strong month-and-a-half of focused scouting from his staff.
“We’re not gonna be cramming last minute. I think we’re gonna be very comfortable with the guy that we pick when we get to Friday night,” said Bowman. “It’s not like we’ve got a game next week and we need to draft the one that gives us the best chance to win a game.
“We’re looking for where this player is going to be when they really establish themselves as NHL players; which ones are going to have the biggest impact.”
Certainly, there have been examples of that in the past when the Blackhawks have owned the third overall picks. They need only to look at their current roster to see that since captain Jonathan Toews was taken third in the 2006 NHL Draft. He’s been a cornerstone of a group that won three Stanley Cups in six seasons earlier in the decade.
Hall of Fame center Denis Savard was selected third overall in the 1980 draft and helped to aid in the rise of the franchise back to prominence during the decade. Journeyman player and current Blackhawks broadcaster Eddie Olczyk was taken with the third pick in the 1984 draft.
Who might they take in 2019?
One of the possible selections is a local product – center Alex Turcotte. The Island Lake native has been forecast by many as a possible selection for the Blackhawks after a strong run with Team USA’s U-17 and U-18 teams. Center Dylan Cozens of Lethbridge of the Western Hockey League is another popular mock selection for Blackhawks.
Of course, the third pick is part of a weekend of selections for Bowman in hopes of helping the team restore the franchise back to the elite status they enjoyed just a few years earlier.
“The players that we draft on Friday and Saturday are going to be guys that there’s an attribute they have which we’re really excited about, as opposed to just taking a guy that’s rated high or people think is a good player,” said Bowman. “I think a better approach is for us to have one or two or several scouts really sorta pounding the table that ‘I want this guy. He’s a Blackhawk.'”
That conviction will be appreciated by Bowman as he makes one of the biggest selections during his tenure with the Blackhawks.