The Blackhawks made nine selections in the 2014 NHL Draft, adding six forwards, two defensemen and a netminder. But how are the newest Blackhawks viewed around the league and by the scouting community?
chicagoblackhawks.com took a look at what the draft experts had to say about the Blackhawks' selections, and will bring you their reports this week. Today's prospects: forwards Matt Iacopelli, and Beau Starrett, and defenseman Luc Snuggerud, taken 83rd, 88th and 141st overall, respectively.
Hockey's Future: "A big-bodied overager, Iacopelli put things together big-time this past season, his first in the USHL. Despite his size, he has the demeanor and hands of a smaller playmaker, showing great offensive instincts, a deceptively strong shot, and the ability to make use of both with regularity. His size serves him to win pucks in the corners and in front of the net as well as to create space for himself and his teammates. During the season, he was used as a go-to player offensively and not necessarily required or held accountable as much as some others might be with respect to defensive responsibilities. This area as well as his actual agility and foot speed will have to increase in the next few years in order for him to have a real shot at an NHL career.
"That said, Iacopelli was an offensive dynamo in the league, scoring 41 goals and 64 points in 58 games, a goal-scoring feat rarely achieved in the USHL. He also had 47 penalty minutes and a +12 rating. Scoring goals seems to be his key capability as he pumped in 26 last winter in 39 games for Belle Tire in the MWEHL."
Blackhawks Sr. Director of Amateur Scouting Mark Kelley: “Iacopelli is very intriguing for us. We’re very excited about him; he’s going to go to Western Michigan. The year he had in the USHL—the numbers he put up—he’s got a pro body, he’s got a pro shot.”
Red Line Report: "Has very quick hands for a large man. Doesn't waste time teeing it up - receives and releases the puck in one motion. Has NHL tools at 6-4/195 pounts with above-average skating ability and long, loping stride. Strong on the puck and has shown an opportunistic scoring touch. Comes in hard on the forecheck and finishes checks, forcing defenders to look over their shoulders. When he decides to get physical, he can easily separate defenders from the puck. Has good vision, too - we've seen him make some nice looks and cross-ice feeds. Although raw, he has the size, soft hands and offensive element you can't teach."
Blackhawks VP/GM Stan Bowman: “We like the size... He’s got the frame, almost 6-foot-5. Give him a couple of years, and he’s got a lot of potential. We like the all-around game that he has, and he’s got skills offensively. When you have that size and can move around the ice, you have a really good chance in today’s game.”
Eliteprospects.com: "Snuggerud is a strong skating defender who impresses with his ability to contribute at both ends. Joins the rush and can both carry the puck and make a heady pass. Mans the point well on the power play and has a strong shot. Recovers quickly to regain his defensive position. Plays with good aggressiveness in his own zone and in the corners."
Red Line Report: "Natural puck-rushing defenseman is at his best when he's attacking like a fourth forward. Emerged as one of the best puck movers in this year's draft class; loves to wheel the puck out of his zone or make a crisp outlet pass. Tended to do too much at the H.S. level, but kept his game more simple and effective playing with better talent in the USHL at season's end. Has a natural "wiggle" to his game 0 head fakes, shoulder shimmies, etc. His decision making is somewhat telegraphed, and is prone to dead-ending himself. Still lacks overall strength, but there is noticeably more zip in his skating compared to last season. Earned his warrior status by playing through the State High School Tournament and Clark Cup Playoffs with a broken bone in his hand."