The Chicago Blackhawks need the draft more than they have in recent years, not because they’re rebuilding, but because they’re repairing. Patrick Kane’s and Jonathan Toews’ cap hits explode to $10.5 million each next season, and veterans Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp are well into their 30s. GM Stan Bowman must strengthen the franchise’s young foundation knowing he’ll have to shave some salary. So far, so good with the development of Brandon Saad and Teuvo Teravainen.
Round 2, pick 54
Round 3, pick 91
Round 4, pick 121
Round 5, pick 151
Round 6, picks 164, 181
Round 7, picks 211
Bowman can’t afford to keep his entire forward corps as is, especially with RFAs Saad and Marcus Kruger due for new contracts. Veterans must be jettisoned, whether it’s through letting UFAs Brad Richards and Antoine Vermette walk or trading Sharp. Doing so will create a need for new offensive forwards, especially wingers, in the system. No position in hockey develops easier.
Duncan Keith looks like a Hawk for life, but partner Brent Seabrook enters the final year of his deal, and Johnny Oduya is a UFA. The Hawks aren’t bursting with elite blueline prospects, and that player type takes time to grow. Now is a wise time to invest in a good one at the draft.
Bowman must work the same kind of magic he did in 2010, when he shipped out Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd and Kris Versteeg after Chicago won the Stanley Cup. The Hawks are tight to the cap with lots of players to re-sign. They must shed some contracts.
IN THE SYSTEM 2015-16:
Ryan Hartman, an agitating winger, got a five-game taste with Chicago and acquitted himself decently with AHL Rockford. He has an edge on some of the more veteran prospects on the farm, such as Phillip Danault, Mark McNeill and Garret Ross.
DID YOU KNOW:
Defense prospect Gustav Forsling led defensemen at the 2015 world juniors with eight points. Chicago acquired him for Adam Clendening in January 2015. Forsling rates as the Hawks’ No. 5 overall prospect in Future Watch 2015.