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Future Watch – Chicago Blackhawks: Safety in numbers

The Blackhawks must soon revamp their blueline. After focusing on ‘D’ at the draft, they have plenty to choose from.

B- / 19th overall

The retooling Blackhawksare going through a transition on defense. GM Stan Bowman and staff maintain help is on the way. Chicago has focused on stockpiling mobile, puckhandling defensemen via the draft for the past several years and some of the picks are showing signs of breaking through. Henri Jokiharju, a first-round selection in 2017, has impressed this season and could soon be a consistent contributor. But most of the Hawks’ young D-men remain works in progress in the AHL or junior, and time isn’t on the NHL squad’s side. Two-time Norris winner Duncan Keith is starting to show his age, and Brent Seabrook is a couple steps slower.

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1. Adam Boqvist (12th overall)
D, 18, 6-0, 181 – London (OHL)
50–19–37–56–10
2018 draft, 8th overall
Boqvist is an electric offensive defenseman who looked good for Sweden at the WJC. He has been adjusting to the confines and speed of hockey on smaller rinks in North America. London associate GM Rob Simpson has worked with him to quicken his game so he can adapt his true style, characterized by jumping into the rush and nifty puckhandling with deceptive moves. Boqvist needs to get stronger and learn how to defend using his “speed and brain,” according to Simpson.
FW18| n/a – NHL | 2020-21

2. Nicolas Beaudin (50th overall)
D, 19, 5-11, 175 – Drummondville (QMJHL)
50–7–49–56–48
2018 draft, 27th overall
Beaudin has used his high hockey IQ to dance in his fourth QMJHL season. He’s a smooth skater and puck-mover who can jump into or even lead the rush. Beaudin, who says he admires Keith’s fluid style, is still working on the defensive side of his game. In the summer, Bowman said Beaudin had “good instincts in terms of how to defend” and projected this season as a “big year in terms of physical development.” Beaudin is a late birthdate and will graduate to the AHL next year.
FW18| n/a – NHL | 2021-22

3. Dylan Sikura
RW, 23, 5-11, 166 – Rockford (AHL)
40–13–17–30–6
2014 draft, 178th overall
Sikura was slick offensively at Northeastern. His adjustment to the pros hasn’t been as smooth. He started the season in Chicago but was later sent to the AHL. Rockford coach Derek King said the wiry Sikura has realized he needs to dig into pro play and not just “wheel around” as he could in college. “He’s no doubt a dynamic player, but the big thing is working without the puck, and he’s got to get a bit stronger,” King said. “When he doesn’t have the puck, he’s got to want it back and win those battles.”
FW18| No. 2 – NHL | 2019-20

4. Ian Mitchell
D, 20, 5-11, 175 – Denver (NCHC)
30–4–17–21–10
2017 draft, 57th overall
Mitchell is his having a dynamite sophomore season with the Pioneers as an alternate captain. Along with Penn State’s Evan Barratt (see No. 9), he’s one of two Blackhawks draftees nominated for the Hobey Baker Award. Mitchell is trying to help Denver to a second NCAA title in three years but has said he’s eager to turn pro. He needs to get stronger to succeed at the next level. He possesses excellent hockey sense and smarts, and he blends those attributes with skating and skills, with or without the puck.
FW18| No. 3 – NHL | 2021-22

5. Lucas Carlsson
D, 21, 6-0, 190 – Rockford (AHL)
55–8–20–28–32
2016 draft, 110th overall
Carlsson is a stay-at-home type and the heartiest of Chicago’s young D-men. He’s in his first North American season after four years with Brynas in Sweden. He has played about 20 minutes per game with Rockford. King said Carlsson has been consistent, even if he gets burned wide now and then. He can still improve his skating, but King appreciates the rookie has “a bit of jam and nastiness.” Said King: “When I first watched him, I would’ve thought he played junior in Canada the way he handled the small rink.”
FW18| No. 7 – NHL | 2020-21

6. Tim Soderlund
LW, 21, 5-7, 156 – Skelleftea (Swe.)
44–5–7–12–31
2017 draft, 112th overall
Soderlund is quick, feisty and was suspended for a flying-knee hit to a goalie.

7. Chad Krys
D, 20, 6-0, 185 – Boston University (HE)
25–7–9–16–8
2016 draft, 45th overall
Puck-mover has built up his strength and is termed a solid “200-foot” defenseman.

8. Artur Kayumov
LW, 21, 5-11, – Yaroslavl (KHL)
46–5–8–13–59
2016 draft, 50th overall
Skilled winger with a mean streak. He hit an opponent in the head, then punched a ref.

9. Evan Barratt
C, 20, 5-11, 190 – Penn State (Big Ten)
28–16–23–39–38
2017 draft, 90th overall
Sophomore has a solid frame and has blossomed as a scorer. Among NCAA leaders.

10. Brandon Hagel
LW, 20, 6-1, 173 – Red Deer (WHL)
61–38–54–92–80
Free agent, Oct. 30, 2018
Competitive and tireless worker is an aggressive forechecker.

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