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NHL Draft

Blackhawks hope to add quality player with 26th pick in Draft

Have found success picking toward end of first round, likely will address need on defense, at goalie

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

Chicago Blackhawks head USA scout Mike Doneghey has reason to believe the 2017 NHL Draft presented by adidas might be reminiscent of what took place five years earlier, when left wing Teuvo Teravainen fell to them at No. 18 in 2012.

Teravainen, who now plays for the Carolina Hurricanes, was No. 2 in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of international skaters that year, behind forward Filip Forsberg (Nashville Predators).

"I still remember us all thinking that Teuvo was probably one of the most skilled guys in the draft, but maybe some guys questioned his compete and gumption," Doneghey said. "We weren't talking much about him because we didn't think he'd be there at No. 18. Then as picks kept rolling along, you get superstitious and you don't even want to say his name because your pick is getting closer and he's still on the board. You start to ask, 'Wow, will he really be there?'

"Teuvo obviously fit our criteria with the way he played, and lo and behold there he was for us."

 

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The Blackhawks have 10 picks in the 2017 draft, including one in each of the first four rounds. They have the 26th pick in the first round and there's speculation they might be willing to move up in the draft. It certainly would give the hometown fans something to cheer about.

The first round is at United Center in Chicago on Friday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN). Rounds 2-7 are Saturday (10 a.m. ET; NHLN, SN).

"For this draft you could have 31 teams that have 31 different lists and then it becomes what are you looking for and who fits the criteria," Doneghey said. "We might be looking for a forward, or a goalie, and all of sudden it's there."

Video: Mike Morreale on the top prospects in the Draft

The Blackhawks might be considering options at defense and goaltender in this draft since they seem rather set at forward with Nick Schmaltz, Ryan Hartman, Vinnie Hinostroza, Tyler Motte, John Hayden, Alex DeBrincat and Graham Knott each 23 or under.

"I think [Brooks defenseman] Cale Makar is so skilled and such a good hockey player; you need guys who can skate and are skilled," Doneghey said. "Guys like [Spruce Grove defenseman] Ian Mitchell, [Proctor Academy defenseman] Reilly Walsh and [Dexter School defenseman] Jack Rathbone might be players who in three years bring the same type skill set. You just don't know."

Mitchell is No. 35 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters, Rathbone is No. 57 Rathbone and Walsh is No. 60. Each is projected to be chosen in the second round or later, according to Central Scouting.

The Blackhawks have had tremendous success in the draft the past few years. In addition to a stable of young players in the system like DeBrincat (2016, No. 39) and Hayden (2013, No. 74), Schmaltz, Hartman, Motte and Hinostroza all played more than 30 games with the Blackhawks this season.

DeBrincat won the Red Tilson Trophy as OHL player of the year, leading the league with 127 points (65 goals, 62 assists) in 63 games. In three seasons (191 games) in Erie, DeBrincat has 332 points (167 goals, 165 assists). He is Erie's all-time leading goal-scorer and the leading United States-born goal-scorer in OHL history.

There are 11 players drafted by the Blackhawks since 2009 who are now playing for other NHL teams: Forwards Teravainen, Kevin Hayes (New York Rangers), Phillip Danault (Montreal Canadiens), Brandon Saad (Columbus Blue Jackets), Andrew Shaw (Canadiens), Joakim Nordstrom (Hurricanes), Byron Froese (Tampa Bay Lightning) and Brandon Pirri (Rangers), and defensemen Klas Dahlbeck (Hurricanes), Adam Clendening (Rangers) and Stephen Johns (Dallas Stars).

The Blackhawks usually are close to the upper limit of the salary cap, which has forced general manager Stan Bowman to make certain his scouting team is stockpiling the pipeline with quality assets to replace players that have to be traded for financial reasons.

"We've made a decision that we have superstars in Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith and we need to find guys who can step in and play on short money," Doneghey said. "In the 2017 draft, you have to really be open-minded."

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