I received some angry text messages last night from friends. They were either a) upset that their team didn't win the lottery or worse were bumped down or b) frustrated that the Hawks moved from 12th to 3rd.
This look says it all:
This amazing ascent to the top 3 is really going to do wonders for this Blackhawks team who were in desperate need for an injection of elite talent that they can grow.
I guess my worry about the Hawks winning and ruining their draft position was all for not, eh? I guess I learned my lesson there.
And more importantly, if Stan Bowman can make some smart decisions this summer (either UFA additions or trades) and Mark Kelley and his scouts knock it out of the park with their draft recommendations, then the Hawks shouldn't have to worry about the Draft Lottery Show for many, many years.
I apologize for not going with the originally slated programming of my year-end mailbag but this was too good not to have it's own blog. It's not every day that Stan's dreams come true:
The year-end mailbag blog will be out on Friday. There is still time for questions and if you want to ask about the draft, feel free.
We have some time to pick apart every option the Hawks will have in front of them on June 21st in Vancouver for the draft, but for now, I just wanted to quickly look at a couple that jump out at me as the frontrunners for the Hawks at #3.
Players stocks can change, but the consensus I've seen in mock drafts and rankings are Vasili Podkolzin and Dylan Cozens.
Here is a little depth on both players:
Vasili Podkolzin, RW, 6'1/190 lbs
(courtesy: NHL Draft Central)
Dylan Cozens, C, 6'3 /181 lbs
My take is that Stan can't afford to miss with this pick (duh!) and that while Podkolzin looks like a heck of a player, there is some uncertainty around his arrival to North America, his current contract situation with SKA and his overall production in KHL.
I will say that watching highlights of him, he reminds me of a Russian version of Marian Hossa in the way he plays. He drives the net hard, has a strong 2-way commitment and is very gifted.
However, Stan hasn't had the best luck with the limited Russian players he's drafted over the years.
Since the Blackhawks selected Igor Makarov in the 2nd round (33rd overall) in 2006, they have only selected 4 more Russian players. That's 5 total in 13 years. Who are the other 4 players?
2017 - Andrei Altybarmakyan – 70th overall
2016 – Artur Kayumov – 50th overall
2014 – Ivan Nalimov – 179th overall
2011 – Max Shalunov – 109th overall
I have doubts that all 4 make it over to the NHL and if 1 or 2 of them do, how effective will they be? Sure, these players were not selected 3rd overall, but Stan still might be a bit gun shy.
I also singled out Dylan Cozens as he's ranked in the 3-5 overall in most rankings and mock drafts. Also, his skill set and profile screams to be the go-to pick for Stan if I had to predict as of today.
First, his skill; Cozens is a centre (check mark!) and has size with speed to burn (big check!).
He is also a quality character from one of the most northern places in the world (… err I mean Canada), Whitehorse in the Yukon. Because of that, he moved away from his family at 14 years old and scouts praise him for his maturity well beyond his years.
Finally, there are some scouts that due to his size and maturity, he may be able to step into the NHL in October. I have my doubts on that, but if not this year, he would be targeted for an October 2020 arrival which the Hawks have to be taking into account when evaluating players.
As you can see below on Sportsnet's March ranking for prospects, Podkolzin and Cozens are ranked 3rd and 4th. These are obviously not the only 2 players they are looking at but wanted to touch on them as they both jumped out to me as the most likely options at this point:
Who's name do you want Stan to announce on June 21st in Vancouver?