Forecasting the Chicago Blackhawks’ Draft Needs

With just four games remaining for the Blackhawks and no postseason in the future, the 2021 season is all but over for Chicago. However, the season wasn’t a total loss. Anyone watching knows that the emergence and development of a number of young players into viable NHL regulars, most of whom will be part of the lineup next season, was a major accomplishment.

And they were singular in that regard this season:

And that should continue into next year, with some new additions, of course.

As the Blackhawks prepare for the offseason, the NHL Draft is going to be a major focal point. Missing the playoffs puts the Blackhawks in the draft lottery, though you should expect them to draft somewhere between the 10th and 13th picks, based on how they finish the final few games of the season.

With three picks in the first two rounds, the Blackhawks have a decent shot at addressing three of their top needs as they look to build back a team that can compete for Stanley Cups, plural. In those first three picks, it’s probable that Chicago will take at least one player that will fit any of these needs below, but the most glaring for me is Chicago’s need for a dynamic top-six forward.

You can find our previous draft target posts here: First-round 1.0, Second-round 1.0, Targets 2.0

Top Priority: Dynamic Forward (Preferably Center)

While the Blackhawks saw a number of players in their forwards group make great first impressions this season, there is still a need to find top-line forwards – specifically a top center to go along with Kirby Dach. Players like Philipp Kurashev and Brandon Hagel, along with Dach and Alex Nylander figure to be top young forwards for the Blackhawks next season. Add in young veterans like Dominik Kubalík, Alex DeBrincat, and maybe Dylan Strome and Chicago has a good start to building their next forwards core.

In the system: Lukas Reichel, Michal Teply, Landon Slaggert, Andrei Altybarmakyan

Looking ahead to next season, there’s possibility that 2020 first-round pick Lukas Reichel could make his North American debut with the Blackhawks and make an impact. But beyond the players who made their debuts this season, there’s not much left in the cupboards for the Blackhawks to point to as their next “wave” of young, promising forwards.

Targets: Cole Sillinger, Mason McTavish, Simon Robertsson

In the range of the 10, 11, 12 picks in the first round, there’s going to be plenty of forward options. One name that is on my radar is Cole Sillinger. Decent size for an 18-year-old to grow into, playmaking ability, and the groundwork for an effective two-way game make Sillinger my top target for Chicago to fill this need.

Second Priority: Do-It-All Defenseman

Much like the forward group, the defensive youth for the Blackhawks this season took major steps forward. Players like Adam Boqvist, Nicolas Beaudin, Ian Mitchell, and Wyatt Kalynuk showed a solid baseline for the blue-liners to reach their NHL potential. Boqvist took a major step forward in his development as far as his defensive responsibilities, which was what you wanted to see from him this year before his season was cut short. Beyond Duncan Keith and Connor Murphy, this young group of defensemen in Chicago may likely stick around for a while.

In the system: Alec Regula, Wyatt Kaiser, Alex Vlasic, Michael Krutil, Isaak Phillips, Slava Demin

More than the forwards group ahead of them, the defensive system for the Blackhawks has much more depth to it. It helps that the Blackhawks have focused on getting the position right over their past few drafts. Behind players like Boqvist, Beaudin, and Kalynuk, the Blackhawks have some big bodies that will have some time to develop before making their way into the NHL with Alec Regula, Alex Vlasic, and Michael Krutil. Quick, puck-moving defensemen have been the focus for Chicago recently, but they need to find a more all-around defenseman who can be used in all situations who has a bigger frame.

Targets: Carson Lambos, Daniil Chayka, Corson Ceulemans

All three of these players have decent size to them as draft prospects, but the fall of Carson Lambos, once a top-five prospect, will likely benefit the Blackhawks if they want to address this need with their first round pick. Lambos does a lot well, but not much at a super-elite level. If he finds consistency in his game at the next level, he could develop into a significant minutes-eating defenseman that can be used in all three zones.

Third Priority: Starter-Caliber Goaltender

Kevin Lankinen made the transition for the Blackhawks out of the Corey Crawford era much easier than it was expected to be. But, for as much good as Lankinen did this season, there’s still a lot to be desired from a player who is supposed to be an NHL starting goalie. Is Lankinen the long-term answer? Likely not if the Blackhawks want to be able to get over the hump into the upper echelon of the league. Lankinen, along with Malcolm Subban and Collin Delia are a trio of “maybes” in the NHL and likely would be backups to most other starting goalies in the NHL this season.

In the system: Drew Commesso, Dominic Basse

The Blackhawks had an opportunity to address this need in the last draft with Yaroslav Askarov being drafted 11th overall by the Nashville Predators, but there were no takers in a draft-day trade for Chicago and they ended up taking Drew Commesso in the second round. Commesso hasn’t been too bad of a consolation prize, being named to the NCAA Hockey East All-Rookie team this past season at Boston University.

Targets: Jesper Wallstedt, Sebastian Cossa

Unlike most drafts, this year is likely to produce two goalies drafted in the top-20. The prized goalie in this year’s draft class is Jesper Wallstedt from Sweden. Wallstedt’s value is all over the board, going as early as the top-three and as late at 12th pick in most mock drafts and rankings. It’s unlikely that Wallstedt will fall that far and into the Blackhawks’ lap, but if they wanted to take stab at a goaltender in the first round, they could find another consolation prize in Sebastian Cossa.

Three picks inside the top 50 for the Blackhawks could mean that we see all three of these needs addressed in the first two rounds of the draft. With Chicago’s depth at defense, I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least two or all three picks in the first two rounds used on forwards to replenish the organizational depth of the position after so many players made the jump to the NHL in 2021.

written by

Mario Tirabassi is a writer for Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Mario_Tirabassi.

more blackhawks news

Blackhawks 1, Predators 5 — Three Stars, Key Takeaways

After two terrible starts in a row, the Blackhawks wanted to come out better and perform well in their final two home games. Well... Andreas Athanasiou took a penalty at 5:25 into the game and Filip Forsberg scored for the...

Blackhawks vs Predators – Lineups, Broadcast Info, Game Thread

The penultimate home game of the 2023-24 Blackhawks regular season is upon us. And it's against a Central Division rival who has playoff aspirations. And we're going to be treated to another NHL debut this season. Defenseman Ethan Del Mastro,...

NHL Notes: Stanley Cup Playoffs Update, Sid’s Still Got It, Matthews 70 Watch, More

Not long now until the Stanley Cup Playoffs get going, but there are still a few spots to be decided. Last night's NHL action saw plenty of playoff positioning at stake. We'll break down what happened on Thursday and what...

Frozen Four, Donato’s 400, Del Mastro’s Debut, Murphy’s Back, Vlasic, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

The University of Michigan was shut out 4-0 by Boston College last night at the Frozen Four, which means Frank Nazar's season is over. Nazar put two shots on net and won 8 of 12 faceoffs against a very good...

What’s Next for Frank Nazar and the Blackhawks?

On Thursday night, Frank Nazar's sophomore season at the University of Michigan came to a close when the Wolverines were shut-out 4-0 by Boston College at the Frozen Four. For his night, Nazar put two shots on net and won...

Let’s Watch All Three of the Blackhawks’ First Career Goals From This Season

On Wednesday night, the Blackhawks put together one of their worst periods of the entire season in St. Louis to bury themselves in a four-goal deficit. However, late in the game Landon Slaggert was able to score his first career...

Blackhawks Prospect Aidan Thompson, Denver Advance To NCAA Championship Game

The first game of the Frozen Four was spectacular! It took 11:09 into overtime for the game to be decided, and it was Denver's Tristan Broz with the shot that ended it. https://twitter.com/BR_OpenIce/status/1778575894774247593 Blackhawks prospect Aidan Thompson had a terrific...

Wow! The Blackhawks Have Called Up Ethan Del Mastro

So, this is a bit of a surprise. On Thursday morning, the Chicago Blackhawks called up defenseman Ethan Del Mastro from Rockford. What makes the move surprising is a number of factors. First, expectations are/were that Connor Murphy would be...

2024 NHL Mock Draft: Frozen Four Two-Round Edition

We're now in the final two weeks of the 2023-24 NHL regular season, but tonight there are two games on the ice outside the NHL that will have plenty of eyeballs from hockey fans. The Frozen Four semifinal games take...

Slaggert’s First, 3 More Years for John & Troy, Frozen Four, Rockford Reinforcements, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Last night's game was the latest dull thud in a season that's had its share of highs and lows. And I've got some other thoughts on the effort last night that I'll get to in a moment. But I wanted...

Latest News

Twins vs. Tigers Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats & Best Bets – Saturday, April 13, 2024

The Minnesota Twins will take the field against the Detroit Tigers (8-4) on Saturday. The game begins at 1:10 PM ET on BSN, with the Twins listed as -134 favorites on the moneyline.Minnesota's Joe Ryan gets the start, and he'll...

Reds vs. White Sox Probable Starting Pitchers – April 13

The Cincinnati Reds (7-6) go on the road against the Chicago White Sox (2-11) on Saturday. The contest is set to begin at 2:10 PM ET.The Reds will give the nod to Nick Lodolo and the White Sox will turn...

Twins vs. Tigers Probable Starting Pitchers – April 13

The Minnesota Twins (4-7) visit the Detroit Tigers (8-4) for an away game at 1:10 PM ET on Saturday.The probable pitchers are Joe Ryan (0-1) for the Twins and Kenta Maeda (0-1) for the Tigers.Twins vs. Tigers Pitcher Matchup and...

Mets vs. Royals Probable Starting Pitchers – April 13

The New York Mets (6-7) host the Kansas City Royals (9-5) for a home game at Citi Field on Saturday. First pitch is at 1:40 PM ET.The Mets will give the ball to Sean Manaea (1-0, 0.82 ERA), who is...

Wild vs. Sharks Prediction: Picks, Live Odds and Moneyline – Saturday, April 13, 2024

The Minnesota Wild play at the San Jose Sharks on April 13 at 10:30 PM ET, and are -238 favorites, with the home team a big underdog at +195.Wild vs. Sharks Favorite, Moneyline, TotalFavorite: Wild (-238)Underdog: Sharks (+195)Total: 6Best Wild...

Kings vs. Ducks Prediction: Odds, Picks, Best Bets – Saturday, April 13, 2024

The oddsmakers really fancy the Los Angeles Kings to top the Anaheim Ducks in their clash on Saturday, April 13, with the Kings given moneyline odds of -355 at home, and the Ducks at +280.Kings vs. Ducks Favorite, Moneyline, TotalFavorite:...

Oilers vs. Canucks Prediction: Picks, Live Odds and Moneyline – Saturday, April 13, 2024

The Edmonton Oilers are solid favorites (-135) at home against the Vancouver Canucks (+114) on Saturday at 10:00 PM ET.Oilers vs. Canucks Favorite, Moneyline, TotalFavorite: Oilers (-135)Underdog: Canucks (+114)Total: 6.5Best Oilers vs. Canucks Promo Codes[lasso type="table" id="1"]How to Watch Oilers...

How to Watch Dodgers vs. Padres: Live Stream or on TV

Mookie Betts and the Los Angeles Dodgers (10-6) host Fernando Tatis Jr. and the San Diego Padres (8-8) on Saturday, with first pitch at 9:10 PM ET.The article below will give you everything you need to know to watch Los...

Predators vs. Blue Jackets Prediction: Live Odds, Stats, History and Picks – Saturday, April 13, 2024

The Nashville Predators and Columbus Blue Jackets face off on Saturday at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, and the sportsbooks give a big edge to the home team (-305) over the visitor (+245).Predators vs. Blue Jackets Favorite, Moneyline, TotalFavorite: Predators (-305)Underdog:...

How to Watch Cardinals vs. Diamondbacks: Live Stream or on TV

The St. Louis Cardinals (7-7), who will give the ball to Kyle Gibson, visit the Arizona Diamondbacks (6-8) with Ryne Nelson on the hill, Saturday at 8:10 PM ET.Keep reading to see how to watch the St. Louis-Arizona matchup below.When...

more blackhawks news