The Blackhawks don’t feel they need more draft picks.
But they certainly wouldn’t mind some.
“You’re always wanting to get more draft picks,” said general manager Stan Bowman, who has seven to work with but none until the 54th selection. “That’s the goal any time you lead into the draft. If we can acquire additional picks, which we’ve been able to do on occasion in previous years, I think that’d be great. If not, we still have seven picks in the draft and we’ll make our decisions and hopefully add some players we’re really excited about.”
If the Hawks do move Patrick Sharp, as expected, before Friday’s first round, picks would surely be involved. Bowman’s current asking price is believed to be a high pick, a prospect and a current NHL player on a cap-friendly contract — a very high asking price, and likely just the opening salvo in any negotiation. Bryan Bickell and Kris Versteeg, among others, also could be on the block.
The Hawks’ success has had a profound affect on local hockey, and locals Ryan Hartman (West Dundee) and Scott Darling (Lemont) each made their NHL debuts with the Hawks this season. This year, Wayne’s Christian Fischer (who lists his favorite player as Patrick Kane) leads the local crop. He had 28 goals and 25 assists in 57 games with the United States’ under-18 team this season.
“I think where it’s really highlighted is the amount of kids coming from the Chicago area that are ending with the national development team in Ann Arbor,” Hawks direct of amateur scouting Mark Kelley said. “Every year, there are two or three kids from the Chicago area. Chicago hockey’s definitely on the rise.”
Help on the way?
With Johnny Oduya expected to walk as a free agent, and Michal Rozsival a long shot to return, as well, the Hawks will be very young on the blue line next season. But the depth chart could get a boost from college free agent Mike Reilly, who has narrowed his options to the Hawks and the Minnesota Wild, according to numerous reports. Reilly, who turns 22 next month, was originally drafted in 2011 by Columbus, but opted not to sign with the Blue Jackets (as Kevin Hayes did with the Hawks last summer). Reilly had six goals and 36 assists in 39 games as a junior at Minnesota this past season.
Reilly, should he sign, could compete with Stephen Johns, David Rundblad and Michael Paliotta for a roster spot in the fall.
Taking a break
Jonathan Toews finally got to go home to Winnipeg on Thursday, after a long regular season, a grueling two-month postseason grind, a whirlwind week of celebration and a stop in Las Vegas for the NHL Awards. It’ll be his first chance to relax since September.
“I’m looking forward to to that,” he said. “The Cup will be around soon enough. It’ll be a quick respite, I guess.”