Blackhawks’ 1st-round-pick possibilities: North American prospects to watch for

Scouting reports for six North American prospects the Blackhawks might consider with the 17th overall selection.

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Brendan Brisson of the Chicago Steel is one player the Blackhawks may consider with the 17th overall pick.

Courtesy of Chicago Steel

Who will the Blackhawks select with the 17th pick in Tuesday’s NHL draft?

Publicly, the list of possibilities is long. Internally, it’s not.

Scouting director Mark Kelley believes he knows who the first 12 players off the board will be. That leaves just four uncertain teams before the Hawks come up, knowledge which allows him to narrow the list of options significantly.

Of course, Kelley won’t share the top 12, or who the Hawks are thus considering. But he will share his thoughts when asked about specific players.

Below are the North American players plausibly in play at No. 17, with analyses from Kelley. Click here for the story on European prospects the Hawks may consider.

Dawson Mercer — Center, Chicoutimi (QMJHL)

Mercer’s stock fell slightly from a projected top-10 pick over the latter half of his 2019-20 season, which could work out brilliantly for the Hawks. The 6-foot forward has great hands and playmaking vision, but only average skating.

“When you watch him play, the first thing that comes out is he has a pro game, he’s good on both sides of the puck,” Kelley said. “Offensively, he runs numbers, and then defensively, [he’s] very responsible.”

Dylan Holloway — Center, Wisconsin (NCAA)

Holloway, 6-foot-1 and 203 pounds already, scored 17 points in 35 games as a freshman at Wisconsin. He’s a powerful man who skates very well and wins every puck battle, but he’s not as dynamic offensively as other first-rounders.

“We watched him...right up the road in Madison, and we have a great pipeline there,” Kelley said. “If you watched Dylan play and you didn’t know who he was, you’d easily locate him. He plays with a lot of energy, a lot of power, he likes the puck, he goes hard in corners and hard to the net.”

Brendan Brisson — Center, Chicago (USHL)

Brisson was part of one of the most dominant U.S. junior teams in history last season with the Chicago Steel in Geneva.

The son of one of the NHL’s most prominent agents, he grew up around the Hawks’ dressing room. He’s an offense-all-the-time center with great shooting and passing ability, but he needs to add weight.

“This year, he made great strides,” Kelley said.

Braden Schneider — Defenseman, Brandon (WHL)

One of the few defenseman viable for the Hawks’ pick, Schneider uses his 6-foot-2 frame and reach very well in his own zone. He’s physical and smart, but he won’t contribute much along the offensive blue line.

“Schneider is almost a little bit of a throwback player,” Kelley said. “He’s a good two-way defenseman but has a great presence in the defensive zone. He plays with an edge.”

Seth Jarvis — Right Wing, Portland (WHL)

Jarvis exploded to score 98 points in 58 games last season, a very impressive total even in the scoring-inflated Canadian junior leagues.

His skating speed is exceptional, and he supplements that singular elite skill with enough decent other attributes that he’d be a steal at 17th.

“[Jarvis] probably had as good a year as anyone in junior hockey from November on,” Kelley said. “He’s a gamer, another player who’s efficient at both ends of the ice.”

Connor Zary — Center, Kamloops (WHL)

The foil to Jarvis in the WHL, Zary’s offensive portfolio is loaded with many great skills — shooting, passing, vision, creativity — but he’s held back by relatively poor skating.

“Zary has a lot of similarities with Dawson Mercer,” Kelley said. “[He] has a real presence on the ice.”

Other possibilities

Center Jack Quinn is projected in the early teens, but would be very enticing if he falls to 17th ... Center Hendrix Lapierre’s stock has dropped due to health issues and could be a risky pick at 17th ... Right wing Jacob Perreault is great offensively but poor defensively... Kaiden Guhle is a defensive defenseman in the same mold as Braden Schneider.

The draft will be broadcast at 6 p.m. Tuesday on NBCSN and 10:30 a.m. Wednesday on NHL Network.

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