Five Wasted Drafts Still Haunting the Blackhawks -- Part II

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Five Wasted Drafts Still Haunting the Blackhawks — Part II

Chicago Blackhawks

In the wake of our story on Monday about how the 2014-18 draft classes set the Blackhawks back and, ultimately, let to their current rebuild, I received a few questions via social media. Where did the players they drafted in those years go?

Well, if the first part of this was depressing, this one ain’t gonna help. Sorry, Blackhawks fans.

But let’s break it down.

2014 Draft

1 (20) — Nick Schmaltz, F — appeared in 167 NHL games with the Blackhawks before he was traded to Arizona for Dylan Strome
3 (82) — Matteson Iacopelli, F — appeared in 85 games for Rockford. Never signed an NHL contract.
3 (88) — Beau Starrett, F — never appeared in a game for the Chicago/Rockford organizations.
4 (98) — Fredrik Olofsson, F — appeared in 2 games for Rockford. Signed with Dallas this summer.
5 (141) — Luc Snuggerud, D — appeared in 57 games for Rockford.
5 (148) — Andreas Soderberg, D — never left Sweden.
6 (178) — Dylan Sikura, F — traded to Vegas for Brandon Pirri. Re-signed with Chicago this summer.
6 (179) — Ivan Nalimov, G — appeared in 5 games for Rockford.
7 (208) — Jack Ramsey, D — played four years at Minnesota and parts of two years in the ECHL.

This draft class has appeared in 422 regular season NHL games to date. Schmaltz played in 162 for the Blackhawks before he was traded. Sikura has appeared in 47 games for the Blackhawks. So nine players accounted for 209 total regular season games in the NHL (depending on if Sikura gets run with the Hawks this season).

2015 Draft

2(54) — Graham Knott, F — appeared in 126 games for Rockford.
3 (91) — Dennis Gilbert, D — appeared in 22 games for the Blackhawks. Was traded to Colorado for Nikita Zadorov.
4 (121) — Ryan Shea, D — played four years at Northeastern and didn’t sign with the Blackhawks.
5 (151) — Radovan Bondra, F — appeared in 7 games for Rockford.
6 (164) — Roy Radke, F — never signed with Chicago/Rockford.
6 (181) — Joni Tuulola, D — appeared in 110 games for Rockford.
7 (211) — John Dahlstrom, F — has been in Sweden since 2017. Never signed with Chicago/Rockford.

The Blackhawks traded their first-round pick in 2015 to Arizona for Antoine Vermette, which obviously paid off with his contributions to the championship that year. But the rest of this draft has accounted for 25 regular-season games in the NHL — all of which have been played by Gilbert. Indeed, Gilbert is the only player on this list who still has an NHL contract; he signed with Calgary this summer.

Not having a first-round pick in this draft (the Connor McDavid draft) wasn’t ideal. And the Blackhawks missed on players like Anthony Cirelli (72nd overall), Mathieu Joseph (120), Conor Garland (123), Ethan Bear (124), Troy Terry (148) and Andrew Mangiapane (166). Caleb Jones was the 117th overall pick in 2015 by Edmonton.

That’s two complete draft classes (16 players) from which only one players — Schmaltz — appeared in at least 100 games in the NHL for the Blackhawks. And only one player is still with the Blackhawks; Sikura came back as a free agent this summer on a two-way deal. So even he left for a while.

2016 Draft

2 (39) — Alex DeBrincat, F — appeared in 368 games for the Blackhawks. Traded to Ottawa this summer.
2 (45) — Chad Krys, D — appeared in 64 games over four injury-plagued seasons in Rockford. Traded to Toronto last season for Kurtis Gabriel.
2 (50) — Artur Kayumov, F — hasn’t left Russia.
3 (83) — Wouter Peeters, G — never signed with Chicago/Rockford.
4 (110) — Lucas Carlsson, D — appeared in 18 games for the Blackhawks. Traded to Florida with Lucas Wallmark in the deal that brought Riley Stillman (among others) to Chicago. Still on Panthers’ roster.
4 (113) — Nathan Noel, F — appeared in 71 games for Rockford.
5 (143) — Mathias From, F — never left Sweden.
6 (173) — Blake Hillman, D — appeared in 4 games for the Blackhawks.
7 (203) — Jake Ryczek, D — never signed with Chicago/Rockford.

Other than DeBrincat, who was obviously a huge win in this draft class, the Blackhawks have 22 games to show for the other eight players they drafted in 2016. The Blackhawks traded their first-round pick in 2016 to Winnipeg to bring Andrew Ladd back; that didn’t work out nearly as well as the deal that brought Vermette to Chicago the year prior.

2017 Draft

1 (29) — Henri Jokiharju, D — appeared in 37 games with the Blackhawks before he was traded to Buffalo for Alex Nylander.
2 (57) — Ian Mitchell, D — has appeared in 47 NHL games.
3 (70) — Andrei Altybarmakyan, F — appeared in 94 games with Rockford over the past two years.
3 (90) — Evan Barratt, F — has appeared in 90 games with Rockford over the past two years.
4 (112) — Tim Söderlund, F — appeared in 52 games with Rockford. Was traded to Edmonton with Duncan Keith.
4 (119) — Roope Laavainen, D — never left Sweden.
5 (144) — Parker Foo, F — has been in the KHL the last two seasons. Did participate in the Blackhawks’ development camp this summer.
5 (150) — Jakub Galvas, D — has appeared in six NHL games and will have an important role in Rockford this year.
7 (215) — Joshua Ess, D — his rights lapsed on Monday after five years at Wisconsin.

Another draft class of nine that hasn’t produced 100 games played in the NHL total. The Jokiharju trade was a bad one; Bowman thought he could fix Nylander and that backfired. Currently, three players from this draft — Mitchell, Barratt and Galvas — are still under contract for one more year and each will be a RFA next summer.

Expectations are that Mitchell could see some run in the NHL this year after having his role strategically increased in Rockford this past season. Galvas saw some NHL time and he showed some ability to be a player who intrigues us moving forward. We’re not sure Barratt has the wheels to make an impact in the NHL.

If we combine 2016 and 2017, the Blackhawks drafted 18 players. Of the 17 not named Alex DeBrincat, the total NHL games played for the Blackhawks organization comes to 112. And, now that DeBrincat has been traded, there are more players on other NHL rosters this coming season (3) than we expect on the Blackhawks’ roster (Mitchell).

2018 Draft

1 (8) — Adam Boqvist, D — appeared in 76 games for the Blackhawks before he was traded for Seth Jones.
1 (27) — Nicolas Beaudin, D — has appeared in 22 NHL games over three seasons.
3 (69) — Jake Wise, F — has been in college since. Did appear at the development camp this summer.
4 (74) — Niklas Nordgren, F — never signed with Chicago/Rockford.
4 (120) — Philipp Kurashev, F — has appeared in 121 NHL games for the Blackhawks. Re-signed last week.
5 (139) — Mikael Hakkarainen, F — appeared in 14 games in Rockford over two seasons.
6 (162) — Alexis Gravel, G — never signed with Chicago/Rockford.
7 (193) — Josiah Slavin, F — has appeared in 15 NHL games for the Blackhawks.

We’ll start by pointing out that the pick used to select Beaudin came from the trade of another one of Bowman’s first-round picks, Ryan Hartman (to Nashville). And it was a bit of a surprise at the time that the Blackhawks would double-dip on the blue line with their first-round picks after selecting defensemen with their first two picks the previous year.

The 2018 NHL Draft is still coming into its own in the league. Only two players have scored more than 45 goals in the NHL at this point. Kurashev has more games played and goals scored than Barrett Hayton, who was the fifth overall pick by Arizona. So this draft was a crap shoot.

There’s still hope that Slavin could be a player in the NHL; he showed fairly well in limited action last year. But Beaudin appears to be buried in the system now and Boqvist being trade is another wasted top of the draft.

Of the eight players selected in this class, the Blackhawks have received 234 NHL games played (121 from Kurashev). With Boqvist traded away, the players under contract with the organization from this class are Beaudin, Kurashev and Slavin — and they each have just one year remaining on their respective deals.

In Review

Over these five years, here’s what the Blackhawks have to show for just their first-round picks:

2014 — Nick Schmaltz — 167 games, traded for Strome.
2015 — traded for Antoine Vermette.
2016 — traded in deal for Andrew Ladd.
2017 — Henri Jokijarju — 37 games, traded for Nylander.
2018 — Adam Boqvist — 76 games, traded for S. Jones.
2018 — Nicolas Beaudin — 22 games (to date).

So they had four first-round picks in five years and it amounted to 302 regular-season NHL games with three of them being traded. And only one player acquired from the trades of those first rounders is still with the Blackhawks (Seth Jones).

Other than DeBrincat, Schmaltz and Kurashev, there isn’t a player from these five draft classes that has appeared in more than 100 games for the Blackhawks. And two of those three will be playing elsewhere this coming season.

It’s bad. And it should have been cause for a change in the front office years (plural) before Bowman was relieved of his responsibilities this past season — and even then it took the Kyle Beach report to force the change.

We’re still years from knowing what this year’s first draft class will bring for Kyle Davidson. But if he wants to stay in the job, he needs to have a better track record than Bowman did during these five abysmal drafts.

Author: Tab Bamford

Tab is the Lead Blackhawks voice for BN. He is the author of two books about the Blackhawks, most recently "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter at @The1Tab