The Blackhawks’ draft situation suddenly got a lot more interesting Tuesday night with the team’s move up to the third overall pick thanks to the lottery. The team had just an 8.1 percent chance of making that jump after finishing with the 12th-worst record in the league this season, but the ping pong balls bounced in their direction to afford a leap nine spots up in the draft order.
There might not be a team in a more intriguing spot in the draft given the high likelihood that the Devils and Rangers select forwards Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko with the first two picks, respectively. The real uncertainty starts after those two selections, which puts GM Stan Bowman in an enviable position to pick from everyone else in the class.
Holding the No. 3 pick also means the Blackhawks could go in a lot of different directions, which is made clear by mock drafts coming out following the lottery. There’s no consensus on who’s the third-best prospect in the draft after Hughes and Kakko, so there’s going to be a lot of debate over which direction the Hawks should go.
NHL.com hammers this point home with its three-headed mock draft, as each of the three writers disagree on what the team should do. Adam Kimelman goes for Russian winger Vasili Podkolzin, who’s widely considered the third-most talented prospect in the draft, but brings question marks given his contract status in the KHL. Mike G. Morreale projects the Hawks to go with center Kirby Dach, while Guillaume Lepage sends center Dylan Cozens to the Hawks.
Here’s a rundown of different post-lotto projections for the Hawks’ first-round pick:
Adam Kimelman, NHL.com: RW Vasili Podkolzin, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL)
Mike G. Morreale, NHL.com: C Kirby Dach, Saskatoon (WHL)
Guillaume Lepage, NHL.com: C Dylan Cozens, Lethbridge (WHL)
The Athletic: Podkolzin
Other prominent prospects could be options for the Hawks include U.S. development team forward Alex Turcotte and WHL Vancouver defenseman Bowen Byram. The first round of the 2019 NHL Draft will be held June 21 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.