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Draft Options: Forwards

September 28, 2020, 10:30 AM ET [371 Comments]
Theo Fox
Chicago Blackhawks Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Draft Day is now a week away!

The next few blogs will present considerations for the Blackhawks in the upcoming NHL Draft. Here is the roll-out schedule:

* Today, 9/28: Forwards
* Wednesday, 9/30: Defensemen
* Friday, 10/2: Goalies

There are so many other great sites out there that are ramping up for the draft with full profiles of prospects who the Blackhawks should consider for the 17th pick. I encourage you to visit these sites if you are already not doing so.

These blogs on HockeyBuzz will provide something a little different. Rather than share detailed draft profiles of all prospects to consider, I will instead suggest what blueprint the Blackhawks should follow when thinking of who the best player available may be in the 1st round and who may be worth picking in the later rounds.

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WHO'S UP FOR GRABS

There are so many great prospects to consider in the 1st round but let’s eliminate several of them who will be taken before 17th. Yes, there is always a chance some of them could drop. If so, then lucky for Chicago! We can cross that bridge if it ever comes to that.

The forward prospects selected before 17th include Alexis Lafreniere, of course, as well as Quinton Byfield, Alexander Holtz, Anton Lundell, Cole Perfetti, Jack Quinn, Lucas Raymond, Marco Rossi, and Tim Stutzle (listed alphabetically, not in any rank order).

Then there are forward prospects who are likely selected after 17th whether late in the 1st round or in the 2nd round. I can imagine, though, that some of you may have them on your list of hopefuls at the 17th spot.

These prospects include Thomas Bordeleau, Brendan Brisson, Samuel Colangelo, Tyson Foerster, Ridley Greig, Jake Neighbours, Marat Khusnutdinov, John-Jason Peterka, Vasily Ponomaryov, and Lukas Reichel.

Now, on to the main attraction!

Here are the prospects who may be available at 17th: Rodion Amirov, Mavrik Bourque, Noel Gunler, Dylan Holloway, Seth Jarvis, Hendrix Lapierre, Dawson Mercer, Jacob Perreault, and Connor Zary.

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BEST PLAYER AVAILABLE

The primary drafting strategy for NHL teams -- at least for the opening round -- is selecting the best player available regardless of position. In this blog, we are focusing on who the best player available may be at forward.

When seeking the best player available, what are the ideal attributes for a forward whether a center or winger? Here are a few traits that I would recommend the Hawks place at a high premium:

* Compete Level: Does the prospect hustle on every play, contest every puck, and play to the whistle?
* Hockey Sense: Does the prospect have an innate ability to make intelligent plays in any situation?
* Offensive Skillset: Does the prospect bring a diverse set of talents to either drive offense and/or complement those that do?
* Defensive Awareness: Does the prospect have a defensive conscience to not only neutralize the other team but also take care of their own end first and support their teammates?
* Skating Ability: Does the prospect have either speed and agility or the smarts to be positionally sound if lacking one or both of these skating qualities?

In addition to these traits, another characteristic to consider is the wherewithal to address any major flaws in their game. Addressing these shortcoming can be through:

* Coachability: Does the prospect take well to feedback and integrate what they learn?
* Resourcefulness: Does the prospect have the ability to compensate for weaknesses through other means (see Skating Ability above for an example)?
* Positional Versatility: Does the prospect have the competence to slide over to another position if the one they were drafted as doesn’t work out at the pro level?

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BEST FIT: 1ST ROUND

When considering the above traits for best player available, who would be the consummate choice as a forward for the Hawks to pick in the 1st round?

Personally, I would nominate Rodion Amirov, Mavrik Bourque, Dylan Holloway, Hendrix Lapierre, Dawson Mercer, and Connor Zary. Who the Hawks pick depends on whether any of them are still available at 17th and who has the edge across the traits described earlier.

Let’s make believe that all six of them are still available at 17th. My pick would be Mercer with Lapierre as runner up with hesitance due to his injury concerns. Both have top line ceilings which is what you want in a 1st rounder.

While I wouldn’t be upset if the Hawks took Amirov, Bourque, Holloway, or Zary, their ceiling is lower at 2nd line but a 3rd line floor.

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BEST FIT: LATER ROUNDS

After the opening round, my preference would be to continue drafting players who fit the profile of traits described above. Examples of such forwards include Colby Ambrosio, Brett Berard, Blake Biondi, Thomas Bordeleau, Brendan Brisson, Luke Evangelista, Sean Farrell, Jake Neighbours, Theo Niederbach, Ryder Rolston, Artem Schlaine, and Daniel Torgersson.

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DO NOT CALL LIST

I wouldn’t be opposed to Chicago drafting either Seth Jarvis or Jacob Perreault but would think better players were left on the board. For both of them, skating is a concern.

Jarvis has also been described as good but not great which could see him struggle as a smaller player.

Then Perreault has high-end skill yet does not always apply himself.

The one forward who I would avoid is Noel Gunler. While I think there will be a team that drafts him in the 1st round, I would not simply because he is too inconsistent in his effort despite the high-end skill as a goal scorer. The first trait I would want in draftees is compete level. Gunler lacks that.

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READERS Q&A MAILBAG

Calling all readers! If you have any questions you want to ask about the draft and/or free agency, please send me a private message or email me at [email protected]

Thank you to those who have reached out already! All questions will be answered and featured in a mailbag blog due out on October 5 which is the day before the 1st round of the draft.

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See you on the boards!

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