After nearly a half century without a Stanley Cup and many years of frustration, empty seats and no superstars to becoming THE team of the 2010s. This team has reached five Western Conference Finals and has taken home three Stanley Cups. There are likely more championships on the way with this core.
Chicago drafted stars Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith and Corey Crawford, and that brought them into the status as the team of the 2010s. General manager Stan Bowman has an impressive draft resume that few others will ever be able to match. That being said, the Blackhawks have whiffed on some of their draft selections.
The Blackhawks have wasted many first-round selections on players who failed to pan out. To make matters worse, they also missed out on drafting some franchises superstars to build around. Here's a look at their last 15 first-round selections, and how we would re-draft them.
15 15. David Pastrnak (2014)
Original Pick: Nick Schmaltz
The Blackhawks drafted Schmaltz with the 20th-overall selection in 2014, but he didn't make it into the NHL until this season. Schmaltz has just six goals and 23 points, and he has a long way to beat the likes of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov on the depth chart. There's a chance he doesn't pan out in Chicago here.
Chicago could have supplied Toews with one heckuva weapon in David Pastrnak, whom the Boston Bruins took with the 25th selection. Pastrnak is enjoying a breakout year so far with 31 goals and 63 points. As of this writing, Pastrnak has 56 goals and 116 points in just 163 games -- and he's only 20 years of age.
The Blackhawks need to prepare for life after Toews and Kane, and Pastrnak could have been a piece to drive Chicago in the future.
14 14. Ryan Hartman (2013)
Original Pick: Ryan Hartman
The Blackhawks drafted Hartman with the final selection in the first round, but this draft class has been among the worst in recent memory thus far. There haven't been any stars to emerge from after the first round, and with Hartman finally progressing in 2016-17, there's no reason to change the Blackhawks pick in this re-draft.
After a slow start to his career, Hartman has broken out with 18 goals and 29 points in 68 NHL games so far this season. Hartman has developed great chemistry with Chicago's top stars and should be a big part of their long-term future.
Before 2016-17, Hartman had one assist in eight NHL games, but he's finally come into his own and has made general manager Stan Bowman look genius for selecting him in round one. No need to change this selection.
13 13. Jimmy Vesey (2012)
Original Pick: Teuvo Teravainen
The Blackhawks drafted Teravainen with the 18th selection in the opening round, but was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes last year in a salary cap-saving move. Teravainen never found his footing in Chicago, but is enjoying a 15-goal and 37-point season with Carolina thus far. One man's trash became another man's treasure.
But the Blackhawks missed out on 2016 Hobey Baker Award winner Jimmy Vesey, who fell to the Nashville Predators with the 66th-overall pick. Vesey never played with Nashville and is in the midst of his first NHL season with the New York Rangers. Vesey has 15 goals and 25 points on the season, but will only get better as he gains more experience.
Vesey could surely have been a big weapon for the Kane or Toews line. His insanely awesome hands would have complement Kane perfectly.
12 12. Johnny Gaudreau (2011)
Original Pick: Phillip Danault
The 2011 NHL Draft didn't develop a ton of stars who were selected in the first round, but many future stars were taken in the second round and after. Take the case of Johnny Gaudreau, whom the Calgary Flames selected with the 104th-overall selection. Chicago settled for Phillip Danault with the 26th selection, but he only played 32 games for the franchise and is now with the Montreal Canadiens.
Meanwhile, Gaudreau has emerged as one of the flashiest superstars in hockey. He and Sean Monahan have formed a dynamic duo that no team can stop most nights. Johnny Hockey has 71 goals and 196 points in 223 NHL games, surpassing the 60-point mark twice in his first three NHL seasons.
Chicago's offence is hard enough to stop, but having the insanely-speedy Gaudreau would put this scoring unit on the next level... if there is even a next level.
11 11. Nikita Kucherov (2011)
Original Pick: Mark McNeill
Chicago's drafting in 2011 was actually fantastic if you don't include the first round. They got Brandon Saad (43rd-overall) in the second round and Andrew Shaw (139th-overall) in the fifth round. Can you imagine if they drafted two franchise stars with their pair of first round picks.
We take the case of Nikita Kucherov here, the man who has become the Tampa Bay Lightning's top player while Steven Stamkos has been injured over the past year. Kucherov is in the middle of a career year with 34 goals and 73 points this season. Almost all those numbers have come without Stamkos.
Kucherov has 101 goals and 221 points in 276 NHL games, and is only going to get better over time when his star centre is back. Once again, we wonder what this guy would do if Toews or Kane was his linemate...
10 10. Mark Stone (2010)
Original Pick: Kevin Hayes
Chicago drafted Hayes with the 24th selection, but he never played a game for them. While we did feel inclined to have Evgeny Kutnetsov on here instead of Mark Stone, we feel like the latter would have truly been the better fit for the Blackhawks. Allow me to explain more here...
You see, Stone has scored over 20 goals in three-straight seasons, and would have hit the 60-point mark for the third-straight year in 2016-17 if injuries didn't sideline him. But going from a 178th selection to a 50-60 point man is quite impressive. The Ottawa Senators really found a late-round gem here.
Stone is also among the NHL's top takeaway leaders every year, playing responsibly at both ends of the ice. That would mean pairing him with Toews would A) make Chicago nearly impossible to score on and B) make Chicago nearly impossible to defend.
9 9. Tyson Barrie (2009)
Original Pick: Dylan Olsen
Olsen, the 28th-overall selection, only played 28 games with the Blackhawks and registered one assist. He played eight games for the Florida Panthers in 2015-16, but currently remains an unsigned free agent. As it turns out, Chicago wasted a first-round pick on a defeneman who never reached his full potential.
After Olsen, one of the league's top two-way blueliners was selected. That would be Tyson Barrie, the 64th selection from the Colorado Avalanche. Despite playing on some very mediocre or terrible 'Avs teams, Barrie has scored 46 goals and 187 points in 328 games.
Barrie has scored double-digit goals three times; he scored 53 points in 2014-15 and 49 in 2015-16. The Blackhawks have great defencemen in Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, but having Barrie would undoubtedly make their blue line that much more dangerous.
8 8. Erik Karlsson (2008)
Original Pick: Kyle Beach
Most of the first round in 2008 was filled with draft busts, and Kyle Beach (the 11th-overall selection) was one of them. Beach never played an NHL game, while the Ottawa Senators drafted a guy who could just end up as the greatest player in franchise history, and that is not an exaggeration -- but rather the truth.
Erik Karlsson, the 2012 and 2015 Norris Trophy winner, has been the NHL's best offensive defenceman since breaking into the NHL. A two-time 20-goal scorer, Karlsson has also scored 60-plus points four times and also has 78-point and 82-point seasons under his belt. That is absolutely impressive.
As if Keith and Seabrook weren't enough for opponents to deal with, imagine Karlsson rushing the puck up ice with Kane and Toews as his partners on the power play. 28 other NHL teams owe Ottawa a huge thank you, because the Blackhawks missed out big time here.
7 7. Patrick Kane (2007)
Original Pick: Patrick Kane
Are we really supposed to do a re-draft here? Isn't Kane like a top-five forward in the NHL and a top-10 all-around player? You know, the three-time Stanley Cup champion who only scores clutch goals in the playoffs and won both the Art Ross and Hart Trophy in 2016? Yeah, that Kane guy turned out to be pretty good.
The Philadelphia Flyers were actually the NHL's worst team in 2007, but the Blackhawks were fortunate in winning the lottery and getting Kane first-overall. He and Toews worked together to bring Chicago from years of scrutiny into becoming one of the most dominant organizations in North American sports. Kane has been one of the biggest game-changers the NHL has ever seen.
There's simply no way Chicago would have it any other way.
6 6. Jonathan Toews (2006)
Original Pick: Jonathan Toews
The Blackhawks should send a nice care package to the St. Louis Blues and Pittsburgh Penguins for drafting Erik Johnson and Jordan Staal, respectively. That allowed Chicago to take Jonathan Toews with the third-overall pick, giving them a true franchise centre they could finally build around.
So how has Toews held up in his career? 'Captain Serious' is regarded by many as the best leader in all of hockey -- and his resume says so. Two Olympic gold medals, three Stanley Cups, the 2010 Conn Smythe and the 2013 Selke Trophy. Toews has become one of the biggest pure winners and champions in the NHL.
And with that, NHL history changed forever. Getting Toews third-overall has been arguably the greatest move for the franchise.
5 5. Anze Kopitar (2005)
Original Pick: Jack Skille
Chicago did great with many of their draft selections in the 2000s, but drafting Jack Skille with the seventh-overall selection may just go down as the absolute worst move in franchise history. Skille only played in parts of four seasons with Chicago and never scored more than 17 points with them. He was traded to the Florida Panthers after a failed experiment.
Meanwhile, a long-time nemesis in Anze Kopitar fell to the Los Angeles Kings 11th-overall. Like Toews and Kane, he helped turn a long-time loser into a big-time winner, leading Los Angeles to the Stanley Cup in 2012 and 2014.
The 2016 Selke Trophy winner has 253 goals and 728 points in 830 NHL games. If Chicago had Toews and Kopitar as their top-two centres, then the Blackhawks could have probably won even more championships. Los Angeles would not have been a threat to Chicago all those years if they didn't have Kopitar.
4 4. David Krejci (2004)
Original Pick: Cam Barker
It was Barker, not Keith nor Seabrook, who was supposed to take the Blackhawks to the next level. But Barker never played a full seasons for Chicago and moved on to the Minnesota Wild during the 2009-10 season. The Blackhawks simply wasted the third-overall selection on Barker.
The Boston Bruins found a steal in David Krejci, who was selected 63rd-overall. It's been quite the career for Krejci, who helped the Boston Bruins win the 2011 Stanley Cup -- their first in 39 years. As of this writing, Krejci has 155 goals and 522 points in 696 games. Krejci has reached the 50-point mark in seven different seasons and is one of the league's top second-line centres.
In our re-draft, we are giving Chicago a lot of centres. But if they drafted Krejci, he surely would have been more affordable to keep than the likes of Anze Kopitar.
3 3. Brent Seabrook (2002)
Original Pick: Brent Seabrook
The 2003 Draft was loaded with superstars. Brent Seabrook may not be as big of a star as the likes of Marc-Andre Fleury, Ryan Suter, Zach Parise, Ryan Getzlaf, Jeff Carter, Corey Perry or Patrice Bergeron, but why would the Blackhawks regret drafting Seabrook? Everything has gone just right with him thus far.
Seabrook isn't much of an offensive defenceman, reaching the 40-point mark just three times, but he's the ideal partner to world-class defenceman Duncan Keith -- undoubtedly the most dominant pairing of this era. Seabrook has been just as vital to Chicago's three Stanley Cups as Toews, Kane, Hossa and Keith.
Playing with Keith has definitely taken away some of the attention that Seabrook deserves, but he is undoubtedly one of the league's elite defencemen. Chicago struck gold when they selected him.
2 2. Frans Nielsen (2002)
Original: Anton Babchuk
The Blackhawks picked 21st, and took towering 6-foot-5, 212 pound defenceman Anton Babchuk. However, he only played in 22 games with Chicago before moving on to the Carolina Hurricanes. We can't be too critical of Chicago, because the 2002 NHL Draft was actually extremely awful.
Chicago wound up with Duncan Keith in the second round, so there is that. But with the 21st pick, their best bet would have been career number two centre, Frans Nielsen. A two-time 20-goal scorer, Nielsen has cracked 50 points twice in his career. He's solid, but he's definitely not a superstar.
But again, he was simply the best player Chicago could have drafted with the 21st selection (since they went on to take Keith later). That just shows how disappointing this draft class.
1 1. Michael Cammalleri (2001)
Original Pick: Adam Munro
The Blackhawks had two first-round picks in 2001. They did well with the ninth-overall selection of Tuomo Ruutu, but goalie Adam Munro (the 29th selection) turned out to be a disappointing pick. He only played in 17 NHL games and was out of the league by 2010. Munro turned out to be a major bust for the Blackhawks, so we have to implement a re-draft here.
In yet another disappointing draft, Chicago could have drafted Patrick Sharp -- but he came on board in 2005-06 and helped them win three championships. So we won't choose him. Next up? Michael Cammalleri. The six-time 20-goal scorer has 287 goals and 612 points in 834 games. Those are solid numbers for a player that was the 49th selection, listed at 5-foot-9, 185 pounds.
No doubt, Cammalleri would have been a great pickup for Chicago.
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