Yesterday was a wild day for the Chicago Blackhawks, both ahead of and during Round One of the NHL Entry Draft, as they acquired Seth Jones in a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets and drafted Nolan Allan with the final pick in the first round. Today, Chicago looks to continue to improve their team with rounds 2-7 of the Draft, as they continue to … I think they’re calling it “rebuild.”
As a reminder, the Blackhawks do not have a third round pick today, because they traded it to acquire Andrew Shaw in the summer of 2019. Along the same lines, the Blackhawks acquired the 105th pick from Vancouver in the Madison Bowey trade this season (which is also the reason they don’t have their fifth-round pick this year). And lastly, the 216th pick was acquired from the Florida Panthers in the trade for Riley Stillman and Brett Connolly.
We’ll be live updating the post as the picks roll in, so be sure to stick around all day.
When: July 24th, 10 a.m – ??? CT
Where: Rounds 2-7 will be broadcast on the NHL Network in the U.S.
Blackhawks Day Two Picks
Second Round – 62nd Overall: Colton Dach
We KNEW it was coming. The Blackhawks select the younger brother of Kirby Dach, Colton, with their second round pick. The younger Dach is built just like his older brother, but plays a more power-forward scoring style of game than Kirby does. Colton had a great season with the Saskatoon Blades in the WHL last year, 11 goals and 20 points in 20 games.
— Mario Tirabassi (@Mario_Tirabassi) July 24, 2021
From The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler on Dach:
He was a good everyday player in his first season in the WHL, which makes him a worthwhile draft prospect to follow, but I always felt like he was just that: good but uninspiring. He’s got his brother’s size and defensive instincts, but there were times when he looked timid with the puck and sluggish through his stride. This year, some more assertiveness started to develop and he looked a step quicker from a standstill than I expected. Dach plays an impressive give-and-go game with above-average hands and a hard shot.
— The WHL (@TheWHL) July 24, 2021
Dach will most likely head back to the WHL next year for a full season with the Blades, the same team that his older brother played for when the Blackhawks selected him third-overall back in 2019. Colton should have a monster year ahead of him.
Third Round – 91st Overall: Taige Harding
The Blackhawks acquire the 91st overall pick from the Carolina Hurricanes for Chicago’s 2022 third-round pick.
CAR sends 91 to CHI for a third next year
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) July 24, 2021
With the pick, the Blackhawks selected defenseman Taige Harding. Harding, a 6’6″ defenseman weighing-in at 235 pounds, is committed to Providence College next season. He played in the Alberta Junior Hockey League last season, skating in 16 games with five goals and 13 points with the Fort McMurray Oil Barons.
On the latest edition of The Athletic Hockey Show, draft analyst Corey Pronman answered if Taige Harding might be the next Colton Parayko:
“He has the exact same profile that Parayko had coming into the draft and he has a shot in the league because he has some decent skating and size and I don’t think teams would want to miss the next Colton Parayko.”
This pick feel like a real stretch as Harding was not coming up on many draft analysts big boards. Harding looks like he’s going to have to improve on his skates, which can be difficult sometimes for players at his age and size, but his physicality is something the Blackhawks desired in this draft. Along with first-round pick Nolan Allan, it appears that Chicago is looking to beef-up their blue-line.
Fourth Round – 105th Overall: Ethan del Mastro
Hey remember when I just said the Blackhawks want to beef-up their blue-line? I wasn’t lying. With pick No. 105, the Blackhawks select defenseman Ethan del Mastro from the OHL.
From The Athletic’s Corey Pronman on del Mastro:
Del Mastro is a big defenseman who is a strong defender. He breaks up a lot of rushes due to his reach, physicality and ability to close gaps efficiently. His skating is a work in progress and will be the main obstacle for him as he advances levels since he can struggle escaping pressure as well as play in transition. His game lacks skill and offense, but he can make a solid outlet pass and make the basic play out of his own end. In a sentence, Del Mastro has a chance to play due to his defensive value but his game will need to add pace to be an NHL player.
Del Mastro missed his draft season this year in the OHL due to the pandemic, he played in 57 games for the Mississauga Steelhead in 2019-20. A 6’4″ defenseman weighing-in at 210 pounds, Del Mastro played with Team Canada at the U18 World Junior Championships this spring, tallying two assists and helping Canada win Gold.
Fourth Round – 108th Overall: Victor Stjernborg
Quickly after selecting Ethan Del master with the 105th pick, the Blackhawks turned around and selected Swedish forward Victor Stjernborg with pick No. 108. He played last season in the SHL with Växjö Lakers HC, tallying four points in 30 games.
From The Athletic’s Corey Pronman on Stjernborg:
He’s undersized and he’s not that fast or skilled with the puck, but he makes the most of what he has due to his hockey sense and competitiveness. He has enough offensive instincts to make tough offensive plays and create in hard areas. He generates a lot of offense through his work ethic, forcing turnovers and creating around the net-front area. That may not be enough, but at several levels he has found ways to produce and get coaches to lean on him. In a sentence, Stjernborg’s work ethic and play versus men give him a chance, but his toolkit may be too bland to play in the NHL.
That kind of scouting report make me think of what fellow Swede Tim Söderlund sounded like coming out of his draft year. Not flashy, but the work ethic gets you where you need to go. Unfortunately, Söderlund never panned-out offensively with the Rockford IceHogs.
Stjernborg is a solid 5’11” and 200 pounds, continuing the Blackhawks’ trend in this year’s draft class of selecting sizable players. He will be playing with Sweden during the 2021 World Junior Summer Showcase, coming up this week.
Sixth Round – 172nd Overall: Ilya Safonov
More size coming to the Blackhawks prospect system. I’m, not opposed to that.
With pick No. 172, the Blackhawks head over to Russia and find centerman Ilya Safonov. Playing all of last season in the KHL with Ak Bars Kazan, Safonov skated in 37 games with four points. At 6’4″ and weighing-in at 205 pounds, Safonov is yet another big-bodied player the Blackhawks are bringing into their prospect system in the 2021 draft class.
From The Athletic’s Corey Pronman on Safonov:
Safonov is appealing as a big center with a high skill level. He’s able to put pucks through opponents with ease. He competes well, and combining that drive with his hands, he creates a lot of havoc and chances around the net-front region. Safonov’s drawback, and why he’s been undrafted, is his skating. It’s well below NHL quality and while he’s skilled with the puck he doesn’t make many plays. In a sentence, Safonov is a big and very skilled forward who has a chance to play but his skating will be a major issue in the NHL.
Passed over already in his first draft year, Safonov is 20-years-old already. He was part of Team Russia at the World Junior Championships this past Winter, tallying two assists in seven games played. If his biggest draw-back is going to be his skating, I can’t get too hyped that he’s going to be able to keep up as the competition gets faster at the professional levels. We shall see.
Seventh Round – 204th Overall: Connor Kelley
Another defensman for the Blackhawks in a defense and size-heavy draft class, the Blackhawks go with NCAA defenseman Connor Kelley at pick No. 204. Kelley played last season at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, skating in 25 games with three goals and five points in his freshman season. Kelley is a teammate of Blackhawks 2020 third-round pick Wyatt Kaiser at Minnesota-Duluth.
From Gabriel Foley at Recruitscouting.com on Kelley:
He’s failed to be featured in many rankings from public scouts, with his overager status and low scoring making him potentially-easy to overlook. But Kelley is a very promising prospect who has found a unique way to blend the rugged defense taught in college with the creative, instinct-based offense instilled in USNTDP players. It combines to create a very distinct talent, and one that became the spark behind a strong UMD team this season.
Kelley’s offensive numbers don’t pop off the charts, so hopefully he can make a jump in his Sophomore season with the Bulldogs, coming off of an appearance in the NCAA Championship Game last season.
Seventh Round – 216th Overall: Jalen Luypen
With their final pick of the 2021 NHL Draft, the Blackhawks go with their first player who could be considered “undersized.” Jalen Luypen, a 5’10” and 150-pound forward, has played in the WHL for the past three season with the Edmonton Oil Kings. He has 60 points in 134 career WHL games, with 16 goals and 29 points in 23 games last season.
From Future Considerations Hockey, Justin in Froese on Luypen:
Luypen made massive strides from a guy who simply had a high work rate, to an energizing skilled forward who was a revelation. Impressive performance, but a late-bloomer. Probably a fringe player.
If he can have a season in the WHL next year where Luypen is a go-to player for the Oil Kings, his prospects for joining the Blackhawks organization as a professional will probably become more clear.
That will do it for the 2021 NHL Draft Class for the Chicago Blackhawks. If I can sum it up in one word: BEEF.
The Blackhawks added eight players in the draft and only their last pick of the class could be labeled as “undersized.” A much different approach than we have seen from President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Stan Bowman in recent years. What the draft class lacks in flash and skill, it will hopefully make up for in size, physicality, and work ethic.