There are different tiers of prospects in the opening round of the NHL Draft and this year is no different. That top part of the draft boasts potential game-changing talents. The Blackhawks, who now hold the third-overall selection in June, are going to be searching for that elite-level player when they're on the clock. It's a chance for a home run.
"You're in a different pool of players there, no question," said Blackhawks Senior Vice President/General Manager Stan Bowman. "It's a very good first round so we were very optimistic we were going to get a good player even if we were staying at 12. This is just a game-changer because you don't often get a chance to get these players that are the top couple of picks in the draft. That's where the elite players usually come from. Of course, there are some outliers year to year but if you look back at those early picks in the draft you get a chance to get a difference maker and that's what we're expecting here as well. We've got some time to figure out who it's going to be and that's the fun part about it. The next couple of months we're going to watch a lot of hockey and continue to do our work to prepare and we'll be ready when we get to Vancouver."
When it comes down to choosing between the few players that fall in this top tier, Chicago will try and find someone who is the whole package, but on-ice talent is the most important characteristic. If it comes down to a tie on talent, the Blackhawks should be armed with enough knowledge about these prospects to make the best decision possible.
"When you're picking this high you want to really get to know these players," Bowman explained. "Certainly, their on-ice ability is paramount. What can they do? What are their skill sets? What do they bring to the table? And then there's the other stuff that isn't as apparent, as far as getting to know them off the ice… You start to understand what kind of people they are and what their motivations are. That never trumps the guy's talent, but you try to put the full package together. First and foremost, they've got to be able to make a difference on the ice and that's what we're going to focus our attention on. But when you're picking this early in the draft, you've got to do a lot of other work as well because everything matters in trying to determine who is going to make an impact on your team."